The Little Sweep by MusSoc’s Opera Nova

MusSoc’s ensemble Opera Nova won the hearts of the audience last night with their debut performance of Benjamin Britten’s The Little Sweep.


Opera typically isn’t for everyone, but this delightful story of little Sammy the chimney sweep (Anna-Ruth Gray) and the children that seek to save him from his evil master Black Bob (Greg Link) was easily accessible to anyone with reservations.

At around 40 minutes long, and steering clear of the standard murder/rape/incest themes that opera normally incorporates, The Little Sweep was a refreshing snippet for both old and new to the genre.

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Brilliantly performed

The music was brilliantly performed, with Head of Music Mervyn Cooke holding the fort from the piano. All the roles were largely solo parts, and everyone involved proved their place by hitting note after note.

The production, including an enormous chimney that could be physically climbed into, was impressive for a one-off, student production.

A particularly enchanting scene involved Sammy’s transformation from chimney sweep to a scrubbed up boy. Although this took place behind a screen, bubbles were blown to emulate his bath which had the audience giggling away.

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A little dated, sometimes cheesy but everyone left smiling

At times, the opera did seem a little dated. It had its cheesy moments, notably the end of the opera where the whole cast lined up and sang the conclusion of Sammy’s successful escape, waving all the while to the audience.

However, this didn’t detract from the success of those involved and the charm of the story; everyone left with smiles on their faces.