ACROSS THE NORTH OF ENGLAND
The season opens in style at Leeds Grand Theatre with the Company’s first new production of Carmen in over a decade, conducted by Opera North’s new Music Director, Garry Walker. With its themes of femininity, desire, violence and toxic masculinity, Bizet’s passionate masterpiece continues to resonate strongly with audiences today, ensuring it remains one of the most popular operas of all time. Edward Dick returns to the Company to direct the production following his critically-acclaimed Tosca in 2018. American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams makes her Opera North debut in the title role alongside Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas as Don José.
Leonard Bernstein takes centre-stage later in the month, when a double-bill of his works explores the tensions which can arise in both a relationship and in society at large. His one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti puts the American Dream under the spotlight as the cracks begin to show in Sam and Dinah’s seemingly perfect marriage in 1950s suburbia. First performed as part of Opera North’s Little Greats season of short operas in 2017, this revival, directed by Matthew Eberhardt, sees baritone Quirijn de Lang returning in the role of Sam, with American mezzo Sandra Piques Eddy joining him as Dinah.
Paired with Trouble in Tahiti is a new co-production of West Side Story Symphonic Dances in collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre. West Side Story is a landmark of musical theatre and Bernstein’s stand-alone Symphonic Dances extracted from the show are packed with mambos, waltzes and cha-chas. Conducted by Antony Hermus, Opera North’s Principal Guest Conductor, and choreographed by Phoenix Dance Theatre’s recently appointed Artistic Director Dane Hurst, Symphonic Dances is an entirely new dance work which responds to these rhythms as dancers navigate the rough edges and walls of city life, exploring conflict and the need to connect.
The double bill will be complemented by a short spoken word performance, Halfway and Beyond, by writer and performer Khadijah Ibrahiim.
To encourage people of all ages to give opera a go, free tickets will be available for 16 to 20-year-olds for all performances in Leeds, Under 30s can take advantage of the schemes running in every venue to watch a performance for just £10, while newcomers to opera can book up to two tickets for £20 each at Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham through the Company’s popular Try it On scheme.
More audio described and sign interpreted performances are also being offered both in Leeds and on tour while, following the success of the Company’s dementia-friendly La bohème in 2019, there will be a dementia-friendly matinee performance of Carmen at Leeds Grand Theatre on Tuesday 26 October. The opera will be performed in full with low level lighting remaining on in the auditorium, reduced lighting and noise contrasts in the show, a longer interval, and a relaxed attitude to audience noise or people needing to come and go. There will be extra staff on hand to help out, a quiet area if required, and increased signage to ensure people can orientate themselves.
For performance and tour dates visit https://www.operanorth.co.uk