Scheme to bring opera singers to St Helens homes

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A musical approach to solving personal problems is on its way to St Helens.

Opera Helps, created by London artist Joshua Saefer, will hit the town in April after launching in Tyne and Wear.

Residents struggling with a variety of issues, such as relationship strains or grief, can be visited by a trained opera singer in their own home for free.

And although he admits that opera alone might not sort out a person’s problem, the 43-year-old believes that people can resonate with the music.

He said: “People think of opera as being something for posh people on a Friday night who have a lot of money, but I think opera it is something that immediately appeals to an emotional part of you.

“We all have music that we respond to but a lot of people are put off opera because they think that it is not for them, but it’s something that deals with emotions really quickly and gets to the core.

“I wanted to find a way that I could offer that experience to people without having to pay £100s and go to an opera house, and to experience it in a way that was meaningful to them.”

Trained singers listen to the person’s story, before choosing a suitable aria to perform in a 30 minute appointment.

The appointments are one-to-one and fully confidential, and a similar programme in Sweden received glowing reviews.

Mr Sofaer has already had positive feedback from his project’s first day.

He said: “Some people were in tears because they were emotional about the situation, other people were thanking them so much.

“These singers have trained their voices for years and it’s extremely powerful – just in terms of the volume and the force of the voice – so that alone in your small living room makes a big impact.”

Opera Helps is being run through Heart of Glass, a St Helens arts commissioning project which previously ran a similar programme with the Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mr Sofaer collaborated with Heart of Glass last year for Your Name Here, a project which gave residents the chance to have a park named after them.

He believes that St Helens can only benefit from the cultural boost that Heart of Glass and Opera Helps are providing.

Mr Sofaer said: “St Helens has got amazing institutions like the rugby club, but in terms of cultural institutions people are pushed out to Liverpool or Manchester.”

For more information on the project visit operahelps.com, or to book an appointment call 07783 340789.