First environmental opera at Eden Project

THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE PLANET is a hilarious and energetic environmental performance that brings the magical story of tree communication to life. Did you know that trees can communicate through an underground network of fungus? Unsung Heroes is an opera created due to the incredible fact that trees have their own fungal internet! Within the show, the audience journeys deep beneath the soil and discovers the ecosystem as they follow three extraordinary organisms on a quest to reconnect with the forest. Unsung Heroes is a fascinating and eclectic adventure told through opera with physical theatre and spoken word. It runs from 28th-31st May.

Artistic Director of Gestalt Arts Ruth Mariner says:

“The aim has been to challenge the way we see the world and the environment around us and aims to inspire connection with the environmental community. Messages about the environment are increasingly doom-laden, impacting our ability to respond and take charge. However, latest developments in fungal ecology have discovered that fungi may even provide a solution to waste, with new evidence they can break down plastic. Unsung Heroes offers an alternative, positive starting point which uses groundbreaking research to suggest the planet’s restoration can only come from listening to our greatest power: nature itself.” 

Unsung Heroes piloted at Green Man Festival 2017, funded by The British Ecology Society, with Cardiff  University as scientific partners. Scientist Lynne Boddy, who appeared on BBC’s ‘My Passion for Trees’, acted as the main scientific consultant, with support from ecologist David Johnson (University of Manchester) and PhD student Emma Gilmartin (Cardiff ). With over 12000 people engaging with the project, it was met with wild success with incredibly positive audience feedback including comments such as — ‘Ten out of ten,’ ‘Opera should do this more often’ It was featured on BBC Wales and features and in key scientific publications, Sci/ARt Magazine and the British Ecology Society Journal.

Following an invitation from The Eden Project, Unsung Heroes will be performed in The Mediterranean Biome in May 2018 as well as various pop-up performances throughout the rest of the centre reaching audiences of up to 7000. The performances are included in the price of an entrance ticket. With Eden’s involvement, it will be redeveloped with award-winning pathologist Rachel Warmington as part of Julie’s Bicycle’s Season for Change — a six month UK-wide initiative featuring ‘the widest and wildest creative responses to climate change’ coordinated by artists and arts organisations speaking out together on the future of our planet, and programmed to coincide with the landmark UN Climate of Parties. The performance features singers & actors with credits including Protein, The Royal Opera House, Rambert, Aldeburgh Music and Opera Holland Park. 

The piece will be programmed to celebrate the launch of the new permanent exhibition ‘Invisible Worlds’, opening on 25th May — a collection exploring the interconnectedness of life and the environment at every scale. Following on from Eden’s win at the Arts Council’s Ambition For Excellence Fund earlier this year, Unsung Heroes will be the first opera to be performed at The Eden Project. Over the last 15 years, Eden has demonstrated diverse arts programming including acts from Elton John and Oasis to Kenyan Masai dance group and No Fit State Circus. However, Invisible Worlds Programme Manager Gabriella Gilkes said: “This is a new art form for Eden that some of our visitors may never have encountered. This is part of our experimentation with new art forms at Eden and our exploration of new ways to bring our message to life for our visitors.”



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