The young singers of the Opera North Youth Company will be exploring the importance of kindness and compassion in today’s world when they perform a new opera, The Selfish Giant, in the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds next month.

Oscar’s Wilde’s much-loved children’s story has been adapted for the stage by composer John Barber and librettist Jessica Duchen. The two performances on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August will be the first opportunity for audiences in the north to catch the show after it premiered at Garsington last year. The co-commission allowed for two different versions tailored to the young companies performing them; this will be the premiere of the version created for Opera North.

The story centres around a giant’s beautiful garden which has descended into an eternal winter. Bringing it back to life depends on an unlikely friendship which teaches the Selfish Giant the value of kindness and compassion. Joining the young people to tell this timeless tale will be bass baritone Matthew Stiff as The Giant, soprano Julia Mariko Smith as The Linnet and treble Barnaby Scholes as The Child. Opera North Youth Chorus Master Nicholas Shaw conducts, while Emma Black directs having previously worked with the Youth Company on their acclaimed production of Pirates Revisited which toured to the Edinburgh Festival in 2018.

The Opera North Youth Company provides vocal and dramatic training for young people aged 8 to 19 years. It comprises three ensembles – Opera North Children’s Chorus, Opera North Young Voices and Opera North Youth Chorus – which meet weekly during school term-time to take part in an inspiring programme of performances and projects throughout the year. Entry is by audition, but the Company are always keen to welcome singers with potential, regardless of previous experience. Anyone interested can find out more and register online. Tickets for The Selfish Giant are available from

Picture by Justin Slee of the Youth Company performing a previous production of Brundibar in the Howard Assembly Rooms





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