Opera North’s orchestra play together online

Published: 13 April 2020
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Orchestra of Opera North - 2020 An Isolation Odyssey
Orchestra of Opera North's Acting Section Principal Cello Daniel Bull performing with the ensemble Credit: Justin Slee

Opera North's acting section principal cello, Daniel Bull, and principal viola no 2, Lourenço Macedo Sampaio, did not take the cancellation of their concert lying down.

Thanks to their initiative, a 40-strong orchestra has been able to give a virtual performance of the opening to Richard Strauss’s 1896 Also Sprach Zarathustra, with conductor Tobias Ringborg in his native Sweden and musicians in self-isolation in England.

It started with a video recording of Ringborg conducting pianist, Bengt Forsberg, locally, being shared with forty members of the orchestra who, attired in concert dress, each played their part in isolation, in their homes and gardens. The final result is available for viewing on YouTube.

This pieced-together five-minute extract has been dubbed 2020 An Isolation Odyssey, the piece having formed the most memorable section of the score to Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the opening's fanfare instantly recognisable.

Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, said, “we will continue to bring music to people’s lives in whatever way we can through the coming weeks and months—as proved by the determination and ingenuity of so many of our wonderful musicians working together virtually, even while we are all physically isolated. This extraordinary initiative came directly from our musicians and I am incredibly proud of what they have achieved with the support of our brilliant AV team. We hope that those who watch it will feel the same sense of connection through music as a powerful shared experience, that we have felt in creating it.”

Opera North at Home, the company's programme of streamed performances, includes Wagner's Ring Cycle from 2016 and Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti is available on Now TV and Sky on-demand services, Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio is available via Marquee TV, and Don Giovanni is available via Digital Theatre.

Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, recorded in February and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, is available for 30 days through BBC Sounds.