ChildrensConcertFamilyFestive 16/17MusicNorth East & YorkshireReview

Orchestra of Opera North: The Snowman and Other Tales – Town Hall, Huddersfield

Music: Peter Patterson / Howard Blake

Conductor: Hugh Brunt

Reviewer: Beverley Haigh

No Christmas is complete without Raymond Briggs’ classic tale of a boy and his snowman charmingly brought to life. This version of The Snowman is enhanced and magically brought to life with the addition of The Orchestra of Opera North.

The main feature is preceded by tales of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs, in this instance using the versions from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. Stories that the audience may think they know are set in a forest where nothing is quite as it seems. In this case, quite literally as the Grandmother is an alcoholic with an Absinthe habit and Little Red Riding Hood masquerades as Paris Hilton. Peter Patterson’s music is mesmeric and fitting to accompany the humour in Dahl’s narrative and highlight’s the enrichment of the live orchestra.

John Savournin assumes an excellent presenter and narrator with his commanding yet not overbearing presence, his melodic and booming voice perfectly pitched as he introduces the young audience to the instruments within the orchestra in a suitably child-friendly introduction to classical music. The fables are illustrated by some fairly basic animation but it is enough to engage the younger children, providing enough intrigue and focus for their minds, ensuring they enjoy the suspense created by the music.

Although The Snowman needs no introduction, Savournin provides a very brief one that leads us into the main event. Despite the familiarity of the classic animated film that is ritually transmitted into the living rooms of the majority of families on Christmas Eve, this somehow seems how it was meant to be viewed, the experience seems complete. The extra dimension of the live music creates a new magic as if watching with a fresh pair of eyes.

The Orchestra of Opera North work their socks off and are thrilling to watch, particularly during the more animated aspects, where the boy and the snowman race around the snow-laden countryside on a motorbike leading up to the highly anticipated flying scenes. The climax does not disappoint, with a spectacular solo performance from a young chorister, earning him a rapturous and deserving applause.

Although the first half is slightly over-long for a very young audience, The Snowman and Other Tales is an emotive and festive must-see, a treat for the whole family.

Reviewed on 13 December 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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