Having premiered Jonathan Dove's Pinnochio this season, Opera North are continuing their roll and presenting a further premiere next season. This new seasons completes their Shakespeare season and continues to extend the company's repertoire. In the see-saw world that is UK opera, Opera North seem to be on a winning streak as compared to Scottish Opera's brave work clawing their way back to success. November 2008 will also see the completion of work on the Grand Theatre, Leeds, with the restoration of the front of house features and the re-instatement of the Assembly Rooms as a small scale venue. This is definitely an exciting time for Opera North.
David Sawyer, whose first opera From Morning to Midnight was presented by ENO in 2001, is writing an operetta to a text by Armando Iannuci. It is a comedy set in a cosmetic surgery and is described as a darkly-comic satire. The new work, Skin Deep will be directed by Richard Jones and stars Geoffrey Dolton and Janis Kelly.
Sawyer's first work was promising, but seemed to have spent a little too long in the ENO workshops with a dramaturg. Hopefully this new piece will have a streak of unpredictability thanks to Iannuci's comic genius.
In October 2008 they are concluding their Shakespeare season with a new production, by Orpha Phelan, of Bellini's Capuleti e Montecchi with Sarah Connolly and Sara Tynan. Definitely a production to look out for, it tours to Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Salford in the Autumn.
The other two new productions are a pairing of Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing with Let em Eat Cake. Of Thee I Sing is premiered in the Autumn to co-incide with the American Presidential elections (the subject of the operetta), then both pieces will be performed together in the Spring. Both productions will be directed by Caroline Gawn and will start William Dazely as Wintergreen, a part he sang in Opera North's semi-staged production in 1998. The pairing tours to Sadlers Wells Theatre in February.
The final new production of the season is The Abduction from the Seraglio, sung in English in a production designed and directed by Tim Hopkins.
Also in the new season, a revival of David Pountney's production of Shostakovich's Paradise Moscow, revival of Christopher Alden's production of Tosca with Takesha Meshe Kizart in the title role and Tim Albery's production of Don Carlos making its first appearance since 1998. The Don Carlos is being recorded for the Chandos/Peter Moores Foundation Opera in English series. Julian Gavin sings the title role, Janice Watson and Susannah Glanville share Elisabeth, Alistair Miles repeats his Philip II and Richard Farnes conducts. This is definitely a performance to catch and tours to Leeds, Salford, Nottingham and Newcastle in June 2009. I caught the production in the 1990's and have always been very taken with Albery's claustrophobic take on the piece, with Hildegard Bechtler's strikingly stylish designs.
The company is also giving concert performances of Elektra with Susan Bullock in the title role with Richard Farnes conducting. Rebecca de Pont Davies takes the role of Klytemnestra.
Including these concert performances, the orchestra of Opera North will be giving an impressive 24 concerts during the season in a variety of venues around the company's core areas.