With Puccini’s devastating take on passion and power, Janáček’s bittersweet exploration of the cycle of life, and Strauss’ playful look at what happens when tragedy and comedy collide on and off stage, Opera North’s new season brings memorable characters, compelling drama and incredible music to theatres across the north of England this winter. Alongside the mainstage shows, there will also be over 40 opportunities for young people and their families to engage with opera in theatres, libraries, schools, community arts centres and universities throughout the region.

The season opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 21 January with Edward Dick’s thrilling production of Puccini’s Tosca, one of the world’s most enduringly popular operas. The singer Tosca is the lover of Cavaradossi, an artist, but has also attracted the attention of Scarpia, the corrupt Chief of Police, who wants her for himself. The opportunity presents itself when Cavaradossi is arrested and tortured for helping an escaped political prisoner. Scarpia offers Tosca a stark choice: if she gives herself to him, he will let Cavaradossi go free.

A very different look at life and loss follows with Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Inspired by a comic strip in his local paper, Janáček brought his unique vision to this captivating tale of a mischievous young vixen Sharp-Ears who, having been captured by a Forester to become his family’s pet, eventually manages to escape back into the wild only to be shot while defending her cubs. By turns funny and profound, the opera features a host of colourful characters including hens, a dragonfly and a badger, and a playful score brimming with folk-infused melodies.

Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, a first for Opera North, completes the winter season in a co-production with Gothenburg Opera, where it premiered to critical acclaim in 2018. London-based Greek director Rodula Gaitanou and designer George Souglides have set the action in a bustling 1950s Fellini-esque Italian film studio. Much to everyone’s dismay, two different shows – a light musical comedy and a serious mythological opera – have been asked to merge at the last minute to cut costs. The worlds collide to hilarious effect when the commedia dell’arte’s fickle Zerbinetta tries to cheer up Ariadne/ Prima Donna, who longs only for death having been jilted by Theseus.

Following the run in Leeds, all three productions will tour to venues across the north of England, including The Lowry at Salford Quays, Nottingham Theatre Royal and Newcastle Theatre Royal, with performances of Tosca and The Cunning Little Vixen also planned at Hull New Theatre. Free tickets are available for 16 to 20-year-olds at all performances in Leeds, while Under 30s can take advantage of the schemes running in every venue to watch a performance for just £10. Through the Try it ON scheme, newcomers to opera can also enjoy some of the best seats in the house with two tickets for £20 each at Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham.

For full details of the season’s productions, dates at each venue visit



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