International Opera stars to perform for babies in Wythenshawe and Knutsford

Infants and babies in Wythenshawe and Knutsford will later this month have the opportunity to experience the unique world of opera, for free, when Scottish Opera’s ‘BabyO – an opera for babies’ takes up residency for two dates.

The Manchester Airport-supported performances are a special preview of Manchester International Festival’s (MIF) Music Boxes project, and take place on 24th and 25th May at Wythenshawe Forum Centre and St John’s Church in Knutsford, respectively. Music Boxes, a free melodic adventure for children aged 6 months to 7 years, will run for two weeks during MIF, from 2 – 17 July at Salford Quays.

The two areas, which are located at either end of the airport’s runways and rank among some of the most deprived communities in the country, will benefit from Manchester Airport’s role as Official Sponsors of MIF, as every single place for each of the three 30-minutes performances on each day is totally free.

Recent research into the so-called ‘Mozart Effect’ has claimed that exposing babies to music can boost IQ, improve health and strengthen family ties. The ‘BabyO’ show seamlessly combines recorded music with live singing, and uses sounds and words that babies can understand, helping to stimulate the beginnings of language development.

The show's composer, Rachel Drury, has focused on the idea that melody; rhythm and harmony will attract babies' newly developed sense of hearing and looked at how nursery rhymes closely match operatic musical patterns.

The shows will be performed by three vocalists who instead of lyrics, will re-create baby-friendly noises, such as quacking ducks, splashing fish and buzzing bees. The audience will also be encouraged to gurgle along and to crawl over a furry garden set, featuring hand puppets and a range of themed props.

Dr Jennifer Cleary, Head of Creative Learning for Manchester International Festival said “BabyO is a magical musical experience for young children. Creativity starts at a very young age and BabyO offers mums and babies a fresh and fun environment to explore and enjoy music together. We’re grateful to Manchester Airports Group for supporting these special previews and look forward to welcoming families into the BabyO world in Wythenshawe and Knutsford in May, and in Salford in July.”

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is one of the largest arts sponsors in the UK, having committed 9million over the past twenty-two years – it is one of the official sponsors of the 2011 Manchester International Festival, having backed the biennial festival since its inception in 2007.

Dr. Jonathan Bailey, Director of External Affairs for the Manchester Airports Group, said: “One of the main objectives of our long-standing arts sponsorship programme is to inspire new audiences and promote art forms to those who would not normally have access to them, as part of our contribution to our local communities. We believe that a thriving theatre and arts scene helps to support inbound tourism and inward investment and are delighted to be a part of this unique project in two of our key local communities.”

BabyO is for babies and infants aged 6-24 months. Tickets are free, but booking is essential as places are limited and entry is by ticket only. For more information or to book a place call 0161 489 5877 or email:

For more information please contact the Manchester Airport press office on 0161 489 2700 / or visit

Notes to editor:

  • Performances on:
    24/05/11 at Wythenshawe Forum Centre, Manchester M22 5RT, at 11am, 12pm & 2pm
    25/05/11 at St John's Church, Knutsford WA16 6DH, at 11am, 12pm & 2pm

Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events, takes place biennially in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. Manchester International Festival will run from Thursday 30 June – Sunday 17 July 2011. Tickets for Music Boxes are free and will be released on 1 June via

Music Boxes is commissioned by MIF Creative, BBC, Salford City Council and Abu Dhabi Festival. Produced with Manchester International Festival and CBeebies. With support from AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities).

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is the largest UK-owned airport operator, currently serving a total of 24 million passengers annually at its four airports – Manchester, East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth. It also runs a commercial property business called MAG Developments. Manchester Airport is the UK's largest regional airport serving more than 190 destinations worldwide and contributes over 1billion to the North West economy.

Published on: 17/05/2011 10:00:00