Friday, 18 April 2014

Young people to the fore at Opera North

Duncan Rock (Marcello), Ji-Min Park (Rodolfo) and Barnaby Rea (Colline) in studio rehearsals for La Boheme in Leeds.Photo credit: Tom Arber
Duncan Rock (Marcello),  Ji-Min Park (Rodolfo)
& Barnaby Rea (Colline)  in rehearsals for La Boheme.
Photo credit: Tom Arber
Any opera company needs to balance more adventurous repertoire with standard classics, because these are the operas which new audiences (and old ones) want to come back to. But there is an element of necessity to the programming in helping to balance the books. 

Opera North is making a great virtue of necessity in its forthcoming revival of Phyllida Lloyd's 1993 production of Puccini's La Boheme (opening on 29 April at the Grand Theatre, Leeds and touring until 17 May). A double cast provides an opportunity to hear some of the best young singers around today and the company is pairing it with the launch of a membership scheme for Under 30's and students.

The scheme, which is free to join, includes offers of free or £10 tickets for Opera North's productions at the Grand Theatre and Leeds Town Hall, discounts on events at the Howard Assembly Room, food and drink discounts at selected nearby restaurants and bars, and invitations to special events. The scheme is being launched at a special La Boheme on 7 May - for £10, those aged 19-29 (and full time students of all ages) will receive a ticket to the evening performance of La Bohème as well as entry and a free glass of bubbly at an interval launch party themed around 1950s Paris fashion (Phyllida Lloyd's production is set in 1950's Paris).


The conducting will be shared between Andreas Delfs, and the 20-year-old Venezualan conductor Ilyich Rivas who trained under the El Sistema programme.  The role of Mimi is being shared by Romanian soprano Gabriella Istoc and Australian soprano Anita Watson. Istoc is a 2011 Jerwood Young Artist and National Opera Studio graduate, and this will be her role debut. Watson understudied the role of Mimi whilst a Jette Parker Young  Artist at Covent Garden (2007-9) and will be making her Opera North debut.

Rodolfo is shared between Sebastien Gueze and Ji-Min Park. French-born Gueze made his international debut with Greek National Opera. South Korean born Ji-Min Park was a Jette Parker Young Artist and Principal Young Artists at Covent Garden (2007 and 2009/10) as well as representing his country at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the world competition in 2009. He will be reprising the role of Rodolfo with Opera Australia.

Marcello is played by Phillip Rhodes and Duncan Rock. New Zealand born Phillip Rhodes was an Emerging Artist with New Zealand Opera in 2004 and won second place in the International Montserrat Caballe competition in 2008.  He has sung Purcell's Aeneas and covered Iago (Otello) for Opera North. Another Australian, Duncan Rock was an ENO Harewood Young Artists and Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne and had great success with his performances as Papageno with ENO.

Other cast members include Sky Ingram and Lorna James as Musetta, Australian born Ingram was sponsored by Opera North to attend the National Opera Studio and she made her professional debut as Helena in Opera North's production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. James studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and received the Dame Eva Turner Award for Potential Dramatic Sopranos.  Gavan Ring, a Nationl Opera Studio and Jerwood Young Artist, and John Savournin, who made his Wigmore Hall recital debut in 2012 as a Park Lane Young Artist, share the role of Shaunard. Colline is share by Jimmy Holliday, a former student of the National Opera Studio, and Barnaby Rea, who is soon to become one of ENO's Harewood Young Artists.

Further information from the Opera North website



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