On 16th and 17th June, Benjamin Britten’s children’s opera Noye's Fludde (Noah’s Flood) was performed in the Cathedral.
This was a large scale community music-making project which brought people, young and old, from all over South East Wales together to perform and share their love of music.
The part of Mr Noye was played by Chepstow-based singer Karl Daymond and the part of Mrs Noye by Lisa Jones from West Wales. The parts of Mr and Mrs Noye’s children, Ham, Jaffett and Sem, were played by three of the Cathedral Boy Choristers, Aaron Barber, Jack Templar-Johns and Alex Webb and their wives by three local sopranos, Tabitha Clough, Stephanie Hershaw and Hannah Williams.
The Cathedral choristers were joined by all of the year 5 pupils from the Gaer Primary School to play the parts of the pairs of animals: dogs, cats, leopards, ducks and mice to name but a few, who marched into and out of the ark, which was constructed on stage during the first half of the opera, complete with an enormous mast. The animals looked splendid in brightly coloured masks and head-dresses made by chidren at the Gaer Primary School as part of their Family Learning Programme. In the opera, Mrs Noye is portrayed as a dubious character, reluctant to board the ark, who prefers to stay on dry land with her crowd of “gossips” who were played by Cathedral girl choristers and girls from the choir of St John’s Church, Maindee. Young dancers Emma Davies and Elizabeth Matysakova danced the parts of the raven and dove, sent out of the ark by Mr Noye.
The set included the ark which stretched right across the Cathedral, a palm tree, giant waves for the storm, a huge sun, a moon surrounded by fairy lights, several shiny stars and an enormous rainbow. The set, props and costumes were designed, created and managed by a large team of talented volunteers. It was a bright and colourful show!
In addition to over 80 singers, nearly 50 instrumentalists provided musical accompaniment: piano duet, organ, members of the Cathedral’s orchestra-in- residence, the St Woolos Sinfonia, recorder players and hand bell players from all over South Wales and young instrumentalists from Gwent music: string players, trumpeters and percussionists: some of whom were called to play a wind machine and ‘slung mugs’, an instrument invented by the composer, which consists of tea cups suspended from a frame and hit with a spoon to represent the first drops of rain in the storm.
The Friday afternoon dress rehearsal was attended by 200 primary school children from St Woolos Primary School and the Gaer Primary School. Both evening performances were sold out, with an audience of over 260 both nights. Even the audience was able to get involved in the performance, as the opera includes settings of three well-known hymns for audience participation, which were enthusiastically led by members of the Chepstow Singing Club. The Dean, who was himself involved, representing the “Voice of God” said that he hoped people would flock to the Cathedral, like the animals into Noah’s ark. Indeed they did!