Image capture of a video showing Scottish Opera singers
performing “BambinO”, an opera for babies aged 6 to 18 months,
April 13, 2018 in Paris
Alix does not let go of a soprano and a baritone who
vocalisent in a room of the Mozart conservatory in Paris.
Later, he will be able to say that at 11 months, he saw his
Scottish Opera singers Charlotte Hoather and Timothy Connor
wander among four-legged babies sucking their teats or drinking
A toddler begins to babble listening to the melodies – a
mixture of words in Italian and onomatopoeia–, a little girl
closes her ears and takes refuge in the arms of her dad at the
sound of the cello.
Mouth open, the majority watch the funny show, miraculously
without tears –or almost.
Produced by the Scottish Opera and aimed at “music lovers”
from 6 to 18 months, “BambinO” landed in France one year after
its success in Great Britain, and before performing at the
Metropolitan Opera House (Met) in New York.
“It’s really wonderful that babies interact with classical
music at such a young age,” enthuses Charlotte Hoather, 24.
– Try to imitate –
“Sometimes we have parents who have never thought of going
to the opera, but because they bring their babies and they
experience them, they say to themselves + actually, I liked +
“, she told AFP.
While the soprano sings a particularly melodious air, a
little boy stops in front of her and removes her pacifier as if
to greet her, under the amused eye of the parents. Sometimes
“woouhaa” escape the young assembly.
“It’s cute to see them trying to emulate us … and if they
cry it does not matter!” Says Miss Hoather.
The bolder approach instruments, while a baby, not really
convinced, escapes by crawling under semicircle benches.
The 40-minute “opera” was created by British director Phelim
McDermott – who has just put together Così fan tutte by Mozart
at the Met-, on music by Lliam Paterson.
It tells the story of the bird Uccellina (Hoather) who, sad
not to have a baby, builds a nest anyway, before it is
magically born Pulcino (Connor).
The baby version arias are inspired by the theory of
Australian mezzo-soprano Priscilla Dunstan, who decoded sounds
of infants: Neh (I’m hungry), Owh (I’m sleepy), Heh (I feel
like discomfort), Eairh (I have colic), Eh (I need to
Science has not validated this theory, but scientific work
has shown that music contributes to the development of the
brains of babies, explains Lissa Lorenzo, the assistant of the
After some shows by invitation, “BambinO” will perform from
April 13th to 20th at the Centquatre in Paris.
For Charlotte, singing in front of babies requires a lot of
“eye contact and smiles”. As soon as the show is finished, the
babies will have a great time playing with the cushions, the
“eggs” and the stuffed birds of the decor.
The reactions can sometimes be a little unexpected: during
shows in the UK, a baby has vomited on stage while another has
never wanted to make the toy egg.
– French babies more “daring” –
Parents, they are conquered.
“It’s great to have an opera in this environment because
some theaters are very dark and the atmosphere is not nice for
kids,” said Shireen Issa, who came with his boy Zavi.
“The best thing is that they can move, otherwise they would
be difficult to hold,” she smiles.
Little Lyubov, very concentrated during the show, collapses
with fatigue in the arms of her mother Dessislava Milanova. “Do
not wait until they are older to take them,” she says.
And what are the differences between the reactions of
British and French babies?
“In Britain, children are a bit more reserved, while French
babies are daring, very curious.”