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South of the River - a "no soap" opera about Southwark

London SE1 website team

Free tickets are now available for an opera about an entrepreneur who wants to cash in on the regeneration of Southwark by building a Southwark Theme Park. However, Southwark's past and an eclectic mix of local people conspire to destroy his plans.

South of the River been developed with local people since last September, and the cast is a combination of local people and English National Opera musicians (you may have seen details of the auditions earlier in the year in our SE1 Direct email newsletter).

Tickets are FREE, and can be obtained by calling the ENO Box Office on 020 7632 8300 (there is no admittance without a ticket). Performances are in the Big Top which will soon appear in the Tower Bridge Car Park next to Potters Fields on 20/21/22 June at 7.30pm, with a matinee on 22 June at 3.15pm. There is also an Open Dress Rehearsal on Wednesday 19 June at 7.30pm. The performances will run for approximately 1 hour 20 mins with no interval.

South of the River, described as a "no-soap" opera, was commissioned by ENO Baylis to celebrate the completion of their residency in North Southwark. John Constable (of Southwark Mysteries fame) wrote the story and libretto. The composer is Rachel Leach. The ENO worked on the script with local schools and community groups, getting their input for what Constable describes as "a comic tale of inner-city regeneration"

Local entrepreneur Mr Tooley has created a Southwark Theme Park. He enlists the locals to play gangsters and other "dodgy geezers". When he starts grooming a street-wise girl named Liberty to be the star of the show, her boyfriend Johnny becomes insanely jealous. Johnny's rival, Weevil, tricks him into a boxing-match, but Johnny soon discovers that the fight is fixed. Tooley's best laid plans go wildly awry. His workers haven't been paid and the Old Bill is threatening mass arrests, but... "It'll all right on the night!"

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