Children’s opera in the twenty-first century: The child-centred approach to writing

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

A Century of Composition by Women




School of Arts and Humanities




Jayakumar, E. (2022). Children’s opera in the twenty-first century: The child-centred approach to writing. In L. Kouvaras, M. Grenfell & N. Williams (Eds.), A Century of Composition by Women (pp. 383-402). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham / Springer.


This chapter discusses the creative development of engaging both story and character within a practice-led PhD research project. This project involved the creation of an opera for children, Beyond the Wall, which premiered in workshop form at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in December 2017. The research aim of this project was how a creative, theoretical and conceptual approach to children’s opera could be reconsidered, increasing the relevance, appeal and comprehension of a new work for children. Due to the paucity of originally devised children’s operatic works, and the lack of scholarly discussion around methods utilised for opera creation in both adult and children’s opera genres, various interdisciplinary solutions were found during the project to facilitate the creative process. A complex conceptual and theoretical framework, designed specifically around the three key areas of relevance, appeal and comprehension, informed the story and characterisation modelling as they shaped the broader work. Drawing upon these sources, this chapter broadly encompasses the development of innovative methodological tools and research strategies to assist composers to develop a more child centred-approach to the creative process, producing more engaging work for youth in the children’s operatic genre, and beyond.



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