Libretto: Eva Salzman and the composer
Original Story by Eva Salzman
Hollow Hill is McQueen's latest large-scale theatre work and is the first large-scale opera ever to be commissioned by the Buxton Festival, based in the magnificent Frank Matcham Theatre, dating from 1903, which is the jewel in the crown of this lovely Peak District spa town.
The opera is a comedy in two acts which treats a contempoary story, set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bickering and in a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites in the wilds of the High Peak.
The Drama Group of Peak Valley School is largely school children from towns in the district. There are also five professional soloists and some highly skilled young performers in named roles, such as Bella Donna The Balance Beam Queen, and Kung Fu Puck! A top notch line-up of eleven solists, from the Northern Chamber Orchestra, provide the accompaniment.
The plot tells of the attempts of drama and gym teachers Heather and Damien, to get a cyber version of Midsummer Dream - Matrix Uploaded on the road with the help of a wacky singer-songwriter called B.B. McKing and a birdwatching school governor called Nathan Byrd. Oh, and there's a feminist Teaching Assistant with her own take on history, called Eartha, around as well!
Hollow Hill is designed as much for adults as children - the model is something like Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel - and, like that piece, it's really a study of how adults and children do or don't relate to each other.
There are only two morning performances (10.30 am) at the Buxton Opera House on 10th and 16th July. Tickets - £10 circle £5 stalls (children half-price) can be ordered only by phone on 0845 1272190.