Two seasons of Opera North in Newcastle

Published: 19 February 2020
Reporter: Peter Lathan

La traviata rehearsal (2014) Credit: Tim Arber
The Girl of the Golden West (2014) Credit: Clive Barda
Trouble in Tahiti (2017) Credit: Alastair Muir

Opera North has announced its autumn 2020 and spring 2021 seasons at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

Autumn 2020

  • Tuesday 3 November at 7:00 - La traviata
  • Wednesday 4 November at 7:30 - Jack the Ripper
  • Thursday 5 November at 7:00 - La traviata
  • Friday 6 November at 7:00 - La traviata
  • Saturday 7 November at 7:30 - Bernstein double bill

This La traviata is a revival. Directed by Alessandro Talevi and designed by Madeleine Boyd, the production was originally staged in 2014 and the revival will be conducted by Jonathan Webb and Manoj Kamps. Leading cast members are Anna Denisova / Camila Titinger as Violetta, Nico Darmanin / Oliver Johnston as Alfredo Germont and Stephen Gadd as Giorgio Germont.

Jack the Ripper by Ian Bell was first seen at English National Opera in 2019 and now comes to Opera North with a newly reworked version of the score. Dame Josephine Barstow and Lesley Garrett reprise their roles, with Elin Pritchard joining the cast as Mary Kelly. Daniel Kramer directs and the set and costumes are by Soutra Gilmour.

In the twisted labyrinth of London's East End, a vulnerable community of women live in the dark shadow of poverty, vice and violence. Maud runs a dosshouse with her granddaughter Mary Kelly, who hopes to find a better life with her child and the local boy she loves. Mary’s watchful, silent daughter Magpie has already seen too much.

But while Mary tries to plan their escape, a horrifying new threat emerges from the maze of streets. As an unseen killer embarks on a terrifying series of brutal murders, panic sends the neighbourhood into a fever-pitch of fear and mistrust.

The Bernstein Double Bill consists of Trouble in Tahiti and West Side Story Symphonic Dances, performed by Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Trouble in Tahiti was originally performed as part of the 2017 Little Greats season and Quirijn de Lang reprises his role as Sam, joined this time round by Sandra Piques Eddy as Dinah. Jonathon Heyward coducts, the director is Matthew Eberhardt, set designer Charles Edwards, costume designer Hannah Clark and the movement director is Tim Claydon.

West Side Story Symphonic Dances is the second major collaboration between Opera North and Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre, following their work together last year on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The young American conductor Jonathon Heyward makes his Opera North debut conducting this double-bill of Bernstein’s work. Aletta Collins choreographs.

Spring 2021

  • Tuesday 23 March at 7:00 - Carmen
  • Wednesday 24 March at 7:00 - Alcina
  • Thursday 25 March at 7:00 - Carmen
  • Friday 26 March at 7:00 - The Girl of the Golden West
  • Saturday 27 March at 7:00 – Carmen

In this new production of Carmen, Garry Walker conducts his first production as Opera North’s Music Director, while Edward Dick directs the Company’s first Carmen in almost a decade. American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E Williams makes her role and company debut as Carmen and she is joined by Canadian tenor Antoine Bélanger, a regular guest soloist at Opéra de Montréal, as Don José.

The set is by Colin Richmond, costumes by Laura Hopkins, lighting by Malcolm Rippeth and choreography by Lorena Randi.

Alcina, Opera North’s first ever production of one of Handel’s most popular operas, is directed by Tim Albery, responsible for last year's revival of Giulio Cesare. It reunites Albery and designer Hannah Clark with Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings, who led the Company’s production of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea in 2014. It will also be Opera North’s first main-stage production to be created from fully recycled, reused and second-hand sources as part of the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

The young international cast includes Irish soprano Máire Flavin (Countess in The Marriage of Figaro; Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow) as Alcina and French soprano Lucie Chartin (Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare) as Morgana, alongside company debuts from American countertenor Patrick Terry as Ruggiero, Polish mezzo-soprano Joanna Motulewicz as Bradamente, and British tenor Anthony Gregory as Oronte.

The Girl of the Golden West is “a story of true love and second chances” set against the backdrop of the tough life of a gold-mining community on the American frontier. The opera has been called the original Spaghetti Western and boasts what is perhaps Puccini’s most innovative score.

Principal Guest Conductor Antony Hermus conducts Aletta Collins’s widely admired production, with Rafael Rojas (Cavaradossi in Tosca; Calaf in Turandot) reprising the role of Ramerrez, Magdalena Molendowska (Katerina in The Greek Passion) as Minnie and Eric Greene (Gunther in Götterdämmerung; Amonasro in Aida) as Jack Rance.