Laika the Spacedog was written for ETO in 2012 and toured the UK to schools and theatre venues in the UK in 2013, opening with a residency at the Science Museum. In the autumn of that year it travelled to Szeged in Hungary, where it won the Jury Prize and University Prize as Best Production of the mainstream Armel Opera Festival. It was subsequently performed at the Opéra Grand in Avignon. The opera also won the PRS David Bedford Music Education Award. The piece was revived in 2016, with a further revival planned for the autumn of 2019.
The opera’s story is told in diverse ways by nine professional performers, and also includes archive film, filmed animation and puppetry. The characters include the idealistic young student Mikhael, the great scientist Korolev, the dog-hating Valentina, and of course the little dog Laika. The action takes us from an apartment in Moscow to Gorky Park, to President Khrushchev’s Kremlin, and finally to the Cosmodrome in Baikonur. The piece is highly interactive. The piece features a specially made theremin, along with percussion, clarinet, cello and bassoon.
Laika the Spacedog is performed in a brand new production and French translation at Nouvel Opera Fribourg, Switzerland in late 2019.
Composer: Russell Hepplewhite
Writer/Director: Tim Yealland
Designer: Jude Munden
Animator: Babis Alexiadis
Photos by Robert Workman