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Children of fire opera

Children of Fire is a new opera being commissioned by Opera East Productions (OEP).

Tales from the Beagle

Print inspired by Darwin’s encounters with people from Tierra del Fuego, by Klaudio Vidal.

Print inspired by Darwin’s encounters with people from Tierra del Fuego, by Klaudio Vidal.

The opera will tell the stories of those who sailed on the Beagle’s famous voyage of discovery including Darwin himself, Captain FitzRoy, and three people from Tierra del Fuego who were being taken home after a year in England. It will explore the themes that are central to their stories, from evolution and the encounter between cultures, to the excitement of discovery and the beauty and power of the sea.

Children of Fire is the brainchild of Carola Darwin (a singer, researcher and great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin) and Katia Chornik (a researcher and musician from Chile). For this purpose a remarkable creative team from Britain and South America has been brought together. This comprises the distinguished Argentine composer Alejandro Viñao, the playwright and librettist Anna Reynolds, the celebrated Chilean director Mauricio Celedón, and Oliver Gooch, Artistic Director of Opera East Productions.

Viñao's music has been performed and broadcast throughout Europe and the USA, and has been featured in festivals such as the BBC Proms and the Tanglewood Festival. He has received commissions from ensembles and institutions such as the Kronos Quartet, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, MIT (USA) and IRCAM (France).

OEP is a young professional opera company that delights audiences with its fresh and exciting productions. Children of Fire will be conducted by Oliver Gooch, Artistic Director of OEP and former Young Artist Assistant Conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Opera for all

Children of Fire presents a unique opportunity to perform Darwin’s ideas in a way that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The opera will not only heighten awareness and understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution, but will also give a sense of the context in which his ideas were developed. To this end, a programme of associated events is being developed.

After the premiere, which will take place either in London or Cambridge, the opera will be toured within the UK. In 2010, a number of performances will be given in Argentina and Chile, where Darwin’s encounters with the people and his studies of the flora and fauna were central to his work. The bicentenaries of the independence of both Argentina and Chile will be celebrated in 2010 and it is hoped that the opera will help to foster deeper understanding and enhance the cultural links between our countries.

For more information about this project, please contact Katia Chornik or Carola Darwin.


‘There is grandeur in this view of life... from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’ Charles Darwin