Switch ON Opera North for autumn

Published: 5 October 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Opera North's Whistle Stop Opera returns this November Credit: Tom Arber
As You Are soundwalk composed by Abel Selaocoe takes place in Leeds this autumn Credit: Matt Davis
The Orchestra of Opera North performing its first live concert after lockdown Credit: Guzelian

New events have been added to Switch ON; Opera North’s programme of new indoor performance, outdoor events and digital projects to take place this autumn.

New indoor performances include a double-bill of Handel’s Acis and Galatea and Brecht and Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins at Leeds Playhouse 11–21 November. Gary Clarke directs and choreographs Seven Deadly Sins, while James Holmes conducts a cast including Canadian mezzo Wallis Giunta (Dinah, Trouble in Tahiti, 2017) as Anna and dancer Shelley Eva Haden.

Acis and Galatea is directed by Anna Pool and conducted by Anthony Kraus, with a cast including Nicholas Watts (Peter Quint, The Turn of the Screw, 2020) as Acis, Amy Freston (Valencienne, The Merry Widow, 2018) as Galatea, Warren Gillespie as Damon and Matthew Stiff as Polyphemus. Leeds-based designer George Johnson-Leigh designs both productions.

In December, a concert tour of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, is planned to open at Leeds Town Hall with four performances before touring to other venues in the North. Conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, Fidelio will be performed by a cast including Rachel Nicholls as Leonore and Toby Spence as Florestan, in their Opera North debuts, with Fflur Wyn as Marzelline, Oliver Johnston as Jaquino, Robert Hayward as Don Pizarro, and Brindley Sherratt as Rocco. Dates and venues will be announced in October.

Touring to smaller scale venues in villages, towns and cities across the North, Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella, devised and directed by John Savournin for three singers and accordion, will tour to venues including the City Varieties and Slung Low at The Holbeck in Leeds, The Lowry at Salford Quays, Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven, Otley Courthouse and the National Centre for Early Music in York with more to be announced.

The Orchestra of Opera North will also perform a concert at Leeds Town Hall as part of the Leeds International Concert Season. Violinist / soloist Chloe Hanslip directs a programme of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and their twentieth century tango counterparts, Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires on Saturday 3 October. Ensembles drawn from the Orchestra of Opera North will also perform six lunchtime chamber concerts at Leeds Town Hall on Fridays from 16 October, and the Company additionally hopes to restart concert performances in Huddersfield and Dewsbury as part of the Kirklees Concert Season in the New Year.

Previously announced events for the Switch ON season include As You Are, a new soundwalk for Leeds by South African cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe, and artist and filmmaker Matthew Robins’s new animation re-interpreting Act III of Puccini’s La bohème projected in found spaces in cities across the North in the run up to Christmas.

Richard Mantle, General Director for Opera North, said, “there is no doubt in my mind that arts venues are exemplary in providing a safe and secure environment in which to enjoy live performance and we can contribute to enlivening and building back city centres. Although all our current planning is against the unpredictable background of COVID-19, meaning that some venues or dates may shift to reflect changing circumstances, our commitment to sharing great opera and music is unwavering.

“Beyond Switch ON, we are planning to be back in Leeds Grand Theatre early in the New Year, and hope to announce operatic repertoire for early 2021 very soon. We are working closely with our partners at Leeds Grand Theatre to ensure that we are able to return to the theatre safely and in accordance with social distancing for all audiences, performers, backstage and front of house staff.”

Tickets for As You Are: A Leeds soundwalk, and La petite bohème, will go on general sale on Friday 9 October. On sale dates for Acis and Galatea and Seven Deadly Sins and Fidelio will be announced soon.