Commissioned by St. George's Guildhall, King's Lynn

In association with The Baylis Programme of English National Opera, and Gemini

  • fl((pic).cl(bcl)/perc/gtr/vc
  • unbroken voices
  • adult and child soloists
  • 1 hr 30 min
  • Kevin Crossley-Holland
  • English

Programme Note

Note on forces required:

Soprano or mezzo ("Lady Alice")
Tenor ('Philip the Priest')
Baritone or bass baritone (('Clac, village spokesman' -a smaller part).

Young adults/music students etc:
soprano or mezzo ('The Green Girl'. A very big part, but designed for a young voice)
high baritone ('Guy, the steward's son, who gets betrothed to the Green girl')
boy treble ('The Green Boy'. a trained chorister, ideally aged about 9, would be good for this part.)

Girl soprano ('Kate, Lady Alice's daughter')
Boy's voice (broken or unbroken) ('Bill, market stall-holder')

Chorus of childrens' voices. This can be very large, but must include the 'Solo group' of 20-30 vocally confident boys and girls.

Five Instrumentalists:
Flute, clarinet, cello, guitar, percussion.
for these adults or music students are needed - parts are at a professional level, but have been played by good amateurs in some of the past productions.)

In the optional 'pocket scenes' which the children make up themselves, child instrumentalists will probably be used.

Programme note
The Green Children is an opera for children and adults to perform for audiences of children and adults alike. First written down by Ralph of Coggeshall, a Cistercian Abbot at the end of the 12th century, the legend of The Green Children is here vividly retold by librettist Kevin Crossley Holland and composer Nicola LeFanu.

The Green Children is set in medieval England in the village of Woolpit, Suffolk. The frightened villagers one day find two green children, brother and sister, lost and wandering in the woods near their village. Clac, the village spokesman, and his friends, take them to the manor of Lady Alice de Calne (her husband is away at the Crusades), and there, assisted by the Steward's son Guy, who is attracted by the green girl, the children eat green beans, while Philip, the priest, starts to teach them English. The little green boy falls ill and dies, but gradually fear leaves the hearts of the inhabitants of Woolpit, as Ehra is able to speak and to tell them her amazing story of her green world and how she and her brother found their way up to our middle-earth. The villagers are open to accept Ehra, but Ehra yearns to find her way back home. Clac and the villagers take Ehra to the market in the nearby town of Bury St Edmunds, there the hostile stall holders soon want to put Ehra into the freak show, but Guy the Steward's son leaps to her defence. Shortly after, Guy asks Ehra to marry him. Unsure at first, Ehra then discovers her yearning has at last found a deeper sense of home through tolerance, love and friendship, a shared language. On May morning she makes her decision and everyone joyfully sings:

This world is greening
greening is growing
growing is living
living is blessing.

© Nicola LeFanu