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Opera North in Newcastle

Published: 25 February 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Opera North has announced its autumn 2019 and spring 2020 seasons at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

Autumn 2019 Season

  • 29 October at 7:30 - La bohème
  • 30 October at 7:00 - Giulio Cesare
  • 31 October at 7:30 - La bohème
  • 1 November at 7:30 - La bohème
  • 2 November at 7:30 - The Greek Passion

La bohème is a revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s production and features a new international double cast, showcasing some of the most promising young artists of today, many of whom make their Opera North debuts. Australian soprano Lauren Fagan and British soprano Katie Bird share the role of Mimì, with Mexican tenor Eleazar Rodríguez and New Zealand tenor Thomas Atkins as Rodolfo, Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan and British Australian soprano Samantha Clarke as Musetta, and Ukrainian baritone Yuriy Yurchuk and British baritone Timothy Nelson as Marcello.

Handel’s Giulio Cesare is a revival of Tim Albery’s production with designs by Leslie Travers for a work described as having “all the colour, passion and epic sweep of a Hollywood blockbuster.” Baroque opera specialist Christian Curnyn, who has made several acclaimed Handel recordings with the Early Opera Company, conducts a cast including soprano Sophie Bevan as Cleopatra, mezzo-soprano Justina Gringytė as Cesare and counter-tenor James Laing as Tolomeo.

The Greek Passion, by Bohuslav Martinů, is a new production which opens on 19 September 2019 with Christopher Alden directing.

In a remote Greek community, the villagers are casting roles for the upcoming Passion play. Manolios is cast as Christ, the widow Katerina will play Mary Magdalene and her lover Panait is to be Judas, but when refugees arrive in the village, fleeing conflict and seeking shelter, the community becomes divided. Do the refugees present a threat, or should they be welcomed with compassion? When Manolios and Katerina take their side, an inexorable chain of events is set in motion…

Spring 2020 season

  • 3 Mar at 7:00 - Street Scene
  • 4 Mar at 7:00 - The Marriage of Figaro
  • 5 Mar at 7:00 - The Turn of the Screw
  • 6 Mar at 7:00 - Street Scene
  • 7 Mar at 7:00 - The Marriage of Figaro

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene is a new production (opening on 18 January in Leeds) which is conducted by one of the world’s leading interpreters of the composer, James Holmes. The director is Matthew Eberhardt, whose production of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti was part of Opera North’s The Little Greats season in 2017.

On a stiflingly hot summer’s day in New York, a family is pushed to breaking point. Frank (Robert Hayward) is angry at a world that’s changing too fast, his daughter Rose (Gillene Butterfield) longs for a better life away from the squalor of the city and his unhappy wife Anna (Giselle Allen) struggles with a terrible secret that could tear them all apart. As the heat builds, the tension erupts into violence and their lives are changed forever.

The Marriage of Figaro is a revival of Jo Davies’s hit 2015 production. Antony Hermus (Tosca, 2018) returns to conduct a cast including Phillip Rhodes as Figaro, Fflur Wyn as Susanna, Quirijn de Lang as Count Almaviva and Máire Flavin as the Countess.

Britten’s The Turn of the Screw is another revival, an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller based on the ghost story by Henry James. The theme of The Turn of the Screw—of innocence abused and corrupted—had a particular fascination for Britten and he clothed this dark material in music that winds up the tension to breaking point.

Sarah Tynan (Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, 2012) returns to the company to make her role debut in what is probably Britten’s most intriguing and complex soprano part. This production is conducted by Leo McFall (The Snow Maiden, 2017) and directed by Alessandro Talevi in Madeleine Boyd’s 1920s-period designs.