The premiere of “Spin A Tale” took place on Saturday 8th May 2021 in support of the Darley Abbey Day celebrations Past, Present & Future.

During the live online event, Constella OperaBallet took viewers on a virtual journey of enchanting performances, spinning tales through music, dance, song, theatre and design to explore and celebrate Darley Abbey’s place in history and the wider Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.


In partnership with Darley Abbey Day 2021 and Darley Abbey Community Association, internationally renowned artists Constella OperaBallet created an exciting series of short films featuring singers, dancers and choirs from Derbyshire including Déda Youth Company, dancers from Derby University and individual voices from across the county and beyond. This was the final in a series of major arts commissions for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Great Place Scheme. In the Village itself residents and visitors were encouraged to follow the trail of beautiful bobbin and bunting art installations.

Watch the series of short films below:


Water Hymn 

Inspired by the Darley Pageant by Wendy Bitton, this brand new opera-ballet pays homage to the unceasing energy of the River Derwent that gave power to the former cotton industry.

Choreography Sarah-Louise Kristiansen
Words & music Leo Geyer
Costume Sebastian Freeburn
Dancers Bryony Harrison, Erica Mulkern, Bethan Smith, Rebecca Stead
Singers Exeter College Chapel Choir, Music Director
Christopher Holman
Filming YSP Media: Director & Producer: Christopher Bevan,
Director of Photography: Jackie Teboul, Sound Engineer Benjamin Hodge
Audio editing Musicarta Media


Evolutionary Cycles dance film

Recorded during lockdown dancers from Déda Youth Company perform their own choreography that reflects and comments on the evolutionary cycles of humankind.
choreography: Déda Youth Company, facilitated by Sarah-Louise Kristiansen, Megan Smith and Isobel Davies
dancers: Déda Youth Company
video editing: Sarah-Louise Kristiansen


Tangled dance film

Tangled is an abstract installation piece for camera that explores the ephemeral body as a central protagonist in the reconstruction of historical narratives. Using strings of fabric to tie narratives to the protagonist, the short film explores how the body cannot fully be separated from the history in which we live.

Tangled was filmed inside the historic Toll Booth at Darley Abbey.

choreography Sarah-Louise Kristiansen
costume Sebastian Freeburn & Holly Pigott
dancer Daniel Longhurst
music Jire
filming YSP Media: Director & Producer: Christopher Bevan, Director of Photography: Jackie Teboul

Hanging by a thread, billowing through space

University of Derby students explore the use of fabric within Darley Abbey Park. The sense of connection that we have lost in this pandemic time is portrayed by the longing connection through their

choreography Dance students at Derby University, facilitated by Sarah-Louise Kristiansen
music Matt Vale
dancers Dance students at Derby University
filming Alice Marshall


Uniquely, the Evans family, creators of Darley Abbey’s cotton mill created a micro-welfare state which included the provision of gravestones for workers and children who sadly passed away very young.

We pay our respects in this recording performed by singers in self-isolation during lockdown in 2020/2021.

music Introit from Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem
music director Leo Geyer
organ Christopher Holman
singers Exeter College Chapel Choir, High Holborn Chamber Choir, singers from Darley Abbey
audio editing Musicarta Media
photography Alice Bezant

Brick Row 

The world premiere of a new music drama that showcases a snapshot of 18th century life in one of Darley Abbey’s historic buildings. The libretto is inspired by A Cottage in the Village — 1795 from The Darley Pageant by Wendy Bitton.

Brick Row has been dedicated to Jane Manning OBE, a patron of Constella OperaBallet who passed away on 31st March 2021. Jane was an extraordinary soprano who gave over 350 world
premieres of contemporary music, and supported Constella for many years encouraging daring and ambitious artistry.

director & librettist Ruth Mariner |
music Leo Geyer
cast Mrs Smith: Fleur de Bray, Mrs Hickling: Rachel Maby, Mr Taylor: Roland Harrad, Mrs Bates: Claire Wild
costume Sebastian Freeburn
make-up & hair Monica Montalvo
prop design Holly Pigott
filming YSP Media: Director & Producer: Christopher Bevan, Director of Photography: Jackie Teboul, Sound Engineer Benjamin Hodge
audio editing  Musicarta Media

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