The Little Black Cat

A new opera composed by CYO!

From November 2021 – February 2022 we worked with 20 young people aged 11 – 19 to create a brand new opera, The Little Black Cat.

11 – 13 years

Our younger participants, some of whom had little formal music education created exciting cats choruses, progressing from experimenting with cat sounds and “translating” these into English, to creating visual scores. As a final step, they composed melodies which are used in the final choruses.

14 – 19 years

Older participants created the libretto and score for the opera, in a series of nine online workshops. This group included young people who were taking their first creative steps to more experienced musicians looking to develop their skills in composition, under the guidance of Russell Hepplewhite.

The Netherhall School

The Netherhall School, a large and diverse comprehensive in Cambridge, ran a two week English module for all Year 8s. Around 170 young people produced a mass of material which will inform the project going forward. The school plans to run the module on an annual basis.


You gave me the courage to try things I might never otherwise have done. The Little Black Cat showed me that I could be a writer


Help us bring The Little Black Cat to life

We’re working with the Norwich Puppet Theatre (NPT) to make our young people’s vision a reality on stage. CYO will be working with young singers, designers, stage managers and technicians to rehearse and perform the work, with young puppeteers from the NPT providing the cat action! Performances are planned for Spring 2023.

We plan to continue working with partner schools, both on the performance and production elements and through continuing workshops and in school activities for primary and secondary schools. A film of the opera, with accompanying education materials will ensure that the work has a lasting legacy.

Donate here to help us perform The Little Black Cat.

Please don’t forget to include gift aid in your donation if you can.


Phase 1 of the project was funded by generous grants from Cambridgeshire Music and the D’Oyly Carte Foundation.