The Promise: a new outdoor opera for families

I held a forest in my arms, and my heart was changed.’

A young girl lives in a hard city, nothing grows there and no one smiles. One lonely night, the girl meets a woman and makes her a strange promise. Slowly, colour, warmth and music return to the girl’s world, a forest grows and a community is forged.

Inspired by the much-loved children’s story by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin, The Promise brings together a team of talented Opera Makers including original Writer Nicola Davies, Composer Daniel Saleeb, Director Lucy Bradley, Designers Sasha Gilmour and Ruth Paton.

The Promise is a multi-dimensional piece of story-telling theatre for families, which places community and protection of the environment at its heart. It is a story about planting seeds and growing, about the power of nature to heal, and our visceral needs to connect with the soil and each other. More than just a performance, The Promise, will be part opera, part environmental event, a communal act of healing and love which leaves as its legacy a future forest and its custodians. The work will be made as sustainably as possible and will centre the Theatre Green Book in all elements of making the Opera, so that The Promise treads as lightly as possible on the world.

The Creative Team

Daniel Saleeb – Composer

Nicola Davies – Librettist

Lucy Bradley – Director

Sascha Gilmour and Ruth Paton – Designers

Anne Timpson – Producer

Tamzin Aitken – Producer

R&D Week

In August 2021 The Promise creative team headed to Wild Rumpus outdoor arts venue for a week of Research and Development. This was an incredibly informative, explorative and creatively sustaining week, culminating in a sharing with local family audience and potential further partners. Highlights included exploring form within outdoor locations, learning more about tree planting from Will Fitzpatrick from Mersey Forestry Trust, experimenting with puppetry, and exploring how our electronic sound world works outdoors.

A group of 10 people sit on benches in a circle in a wood clearing. There is a caravan in the background

Wilf from Mersey Forest Trust leads a discussion on tree planting, and how we can incorporate an ongoing community activity between the audiences and the local forestry trusts within our work.

An accordion player and viola player play music in a wheat and wildflower field

Viola player Jenny and accordionist Iñigo delve into composer Danny Saleeb’s score in a wildflower meadow.

A forest clearing marked with lines in the soil to show stage lines. In the foreground a tech box is set up. In the background actors and musicans play.

Setting up in the middle of the forest to experiment with staging and playing the music.















We are very grateful to the following partners for their support in making our project happen.






Workington Nature Partnership

Wild Rumpus

Mersey Forest