The Zopera

Written and composed in collaboration by Anna, Joanna, Rianna and Scarlett - Cambridge Youth Opera2020-08-06

Arts Council England

Arts Council England
Manchester, United Kingdom

A family Zoom call reimagined: a group of 12 - 15 year olds created a cast of highly recognisable characters on a family Zoom call at the height of lockdown, writing words and music for an amusing work in the new genre, the Zopera.

Elderly Alan has just discovered Zoom and is fascinated and quite confused by this new technology. After months on his own, he can now speak with his family, has got a new puppy and is finally about to see some of his family members. Performed by Joanna

Megan is Alan's grandaughter. Rianna, who created and performed the character says: The character of Megan was interesting to create, because it reflects on how many teens will be feeling in a pandemic. Megan isn't a rule breaker as such; she's just feeling trapped and overpowered by her dad (Jem the Germophobe). My contribution to this character was thinking up a tune for her song. I included a crescendo near the middle to highlight both her dad's rising fear of the virus, and Megan's own growing frustration towards his exaggeration and overprotection. Also, the song was very staccato, which often indicates anger. I found a mix of major and minor chords that would suit the song's melody, and played them on piano whilst recording. Performed by Rianna

Betty is Alan's sister. Her solution to every problem is to bake and under lockdown this has intensified. She doesn't know what else to do! Performed by Anna

Rose: Rose is a keyworker, exhausted and stressed by having to work through lockdown. Her life is out of control, she never has a break, the house is messy, her children won't behave - it feels as if lockdown has gone on forever. Performed by Scarlett.

Iona: Iona the Moaner is one of Rose's difficult children. Rianna, who created and performed the character says: For me, developing the character of Iona the Moaner was really fun! I thought of the name because in itself it sounds quite onomatopoeic - very dreary and dull. I kept this in mind when I wrote the lyrics for Iona, including 'moaning' sounds like "oh", "or" and "ow" to emphasise her boredom during lockdown. Iona the Moaner is definitely one of my favourite characters! I'd pictured her being around 13 years old, as someone who doesn't really understand the virus and just thinks it a very inconvenient. I've portrayed this in a humorous manner, yet I can imagine many young kids feeling like this. The message I want this video to have is: "Don't be an Iona, kids!" Performed by Rianna.

This piece was made as part of ENO's Lockdown Aria challenge. Children and young people across the country made work inspired by the concept of an Aria "a single character sharing their inner emotional world and thoughts with an audience."

The work was created as part of Arts Council England's The Way I See It project which captures the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the lives of children and young people, articulated in their own voices, through their own creativity.

English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone.


  • Title: The Zopera
  • Creator: Written and composed in collaboration by Anna, Joanna, Rianna and Scarlett - Cambridge Youth Opera
  • Date Created: 2020-08-06
  • Location Created: East of England, London
  • Physical Dimensions: 00:08:29
  • Type: Video
  • Rights: Cambridge Youth Opera
  • Website: Website

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