Prince of Wales watches prison inmates performing opera
The inmates were joined by professional performance artists for the show.
The Prince of Wales watched inmates performing songs from Carmen and Les Miserables during a visit to a prison.
Charles was at Dartmoor Prison in Princetown, Devon, to find out about the work of the Prison Choir Project, which is aiming to find a way to reduce reoffending by building self-esteem.
The inmates were joined by professional performance artists for the show, which included songs from Bizet’s Carmen and finished will a moving rendition of Do You Hear The People Sing from Les Miserables.
More than a dozen prisoners belted out the tune in the prison chapel, which includes the lyrics “singing the songs of angry men” and ends with the words: “There is a life about to start, when tomorrow comes.”
Adam Green, the founder of the Prison Choir Project – which aims to rehabilitate prisoners, ex-offenders and people experiencing mental disorder through the study and performance of opera, song, and choral music, said the project was a wonderful experience for the prisoners.
The professional musician added that it was a “huge honour” to perform in front of Charles and show what they were doing in prisons, which was “an unusual environment to hear Carmen the opera”.
Of the prisoners’ talents, he said: “They can really sing, they really can.
“I think they would stand up against any professional chorus.”
The Prince of Wales visited Dartmoor Prison today to view a performance by participants of the Prison Choir Project.— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) March 23, 2018
The project aims to rehabilitate prisoners and ex-offenders through opera, song and choral music. pic.twitter.com/3NKAWqiJki
Mr Green said the inmates had “thrown themselves headlong into this opportunity and I think bettered themselves through music”.
He added: “It has been, for all, and extraordinary experience.”
More than 400 prisoners and prison staff have engaged with the project’s work to date, including an opera in Dartmoor and further programmes in HMP Kirkham and HMP Drake Hall.
Kate Symons-Joy, who was playing Carmen in the performance, said she wanted as many people as possible to see what the inmates were doing and the effort they had put in.
“They are all so committed,” she said.
“We are very privileged to be here with them, but they also I think see it as a privilege that they are involved and they take it very seriously and support each other.
“It is quite amazing to watch actually.”
Her co-star Clara Kanter said Charles’ visit showed the prisoners there were “really important people aware of them, listening to them (so they) feel like they matter”.
Charles was welcomed to the category C men’s prison by the facility’s governor, Bridie Oakes-Richards, and the minister for Prisons and Probation, MP Rory Stewart, who he then had a private meeting with.
The prince also spoke to one of the inmates involved in the facility’s garden project and admired the well-tended borders.
He asked the man, who cannot be identified, whether he was a vegetable expert and laughed when the man agreed and said he also liked the flowers.