“WATER made this valley. It etched it out of folded rock. It falls from the sky. Feeds the streams. It’s mirrored in the human toil.

“Water made this valley. It brought the people here. It powered the mills. Washed the cloth. And soaks the sodden soil.”

Mike Kenney’s Calderland libretto highlights the power of water and its historic relationship with the people of the Calder Valley. Since the Boxing Day floods of 2015, communities across the valley have shown remarkable resilience and a spirit of support and friendship which is celebrated in new folk opera Calderland.

Inspired by Calderdale’s people and landscape, it premieres tonight in the piazza of the recently restored Piece Hall in Halifax, performed by a community choir and band of musicians, running until Sunday.

Written by playwright Mike Kenny, the hour-long piece takes audiences on a musical odyssey tracing the valleys etched by water, through the Industrial Revolution to the devastating floods of 2015 and their aftermath. Calderland explores how communities have responded to adversity in ways that are heroic, human, personal and complex. Characters featured include writer Daniel Defoe, who visited Calderdale during the Industrial Revolution, poet Ted Hughes and dramatist Sally Wainwright, alongside contemporary Valley dwellers talking about their relationships with water, good and bad.

Calderland will be performed by over 150 local singers and four choirs from primary schools, including St Chad’s in Brighouse.

Presentations include A Happier Valley, a short film made by Bradford’s Freedom Studios with North Park Pictures and Imran Ali. The film features the people of Brighouse revealing how their lives have been shaped by water.

Alan Dix, heading up the creative team, says: “Calderland is a shared musical journey created with local people telling the tale of the valley they live in. It’s a poetic, emotional and powerful exploration of those things that make the Calder Valley so special. The making of this people’s opera has shown how extraordinary the valley is.”

The work is the centrepiece of Landlines & Watermarks, a creative programme taking place throughout Calderdale this autumn. Commissioned by Calderdale Council and the Community Foundation for Calderdale from Bradford-based 509 Arts and supported by Arts Council England in response to the area’s recovery from the 2015 floods, the programme captures the spirit of the Calder Valleys and the resilience of towns that were affected.

* Visit thepiecehall.co.uk