Monday, 12 April 2021

Opera North announces its journey back from Lockdown with Beethoven, Sondheim and Rap

Rachel Nicholls as Leonore in Opera North’s Autumn 2020 production of Beethoven’s Fidelio (Photo Richard H Smith)
Rachel Nicholls as Leonore in Opera North’s Autumn 2020
production of Beethoven’s Fidelio (Photo Richard H Smith)
Opera North has announced its first live performances since 2020 with a programme which moves from Beethoven to Sondheim to Rap. 

A concert staging of Beethoven's Fidelio was planned for Autumn 2020 but in the end took place behind closed doors and was live streamed. Now conducted by Paul Daniel, Matthew Eberhardt's staging of Fidelio will received four performances, at Leeds Town Hall, at the Lowry in Salford Quays and at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham in June 2020 with Rachel Nicholls as Leonore, Toby Spence as Florestan, Robert Hayward as Don Pizarro, Brindley Sherratt as Rocco, Fflur Wyn as Marzelline and Oliver Johnston as Jaquino.

Also at Salford Quays, Paul Daniel will be conducting an opera gala with Elin Pritchard (soprano), and Benson Wilson (baritone).

The filmed performance of Fidelio will be returning to Opera North’s ONDemand platform, and a new series of weekly livestreamed chamber concerts, The Whitehall Road Session will be similarly available. These chamber concerts, from the company's Whitehall Road rehearsal studio will include Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp, and Syrinx for solo flute alongside Indian classical music played by Vijay Venkat on bansuri (Indian flute), Schubert's Octet, and music by Louise Farrenc and Lili Boulanger.

Rapper and playwright Testament in Orpheus in the Record Shop, an Opera North and Leeds Playhouse commission for BBC Lights Up, Spring 2021
Rapper and playwright Testament in Orpheus in the Record Shop
an Opera North and Leeds Playhouse commission for BBC Lights Up, Spring 2021

The production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music planned for 2020 is also scheduled for this Summer with dates to be announced shortly. A co-production with the Leeds Playhouse, A Little Night Music will be directed by Leeds Playhouse's James Brining, conducted by James Holmes (Opera North's former head of music) with a cast including Dame Josephine Barstow, Stephanie Corley and Quirijn de Lang.

The company's pop-up style Whistle Stop Opera returns this Spring with a newly devised version of Mozart's The Magic Flute, written and directed by John Savournin, for a small cast and accordion. Touring to indoor and outdoor small-scale venues across the North from June, performances will take place in schools, community spaces, and theatres in towns and rural touring networks across the region. 

The company has recorded a performance of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 1 May, with Laurence Cummings conducting and cast including Paula Murrihy as Orfeo, Fflur Wyn as Euridice and Daisy Brown as Amore. An accompanying film following the recording process in real time will be available to stream on Opera North’s ONDemand player. And still in an Orpheus kind of mood, Orpheus in the Record Shop, Opera North and Leeds Playhouse’s co-production will be broadcast on BBC Four as part of #BBCLightsUp. Inspired by the Ancient Greek myth, rapper and playwright Testament fuses spoken word and beatboxing with a cinematic score performed by members of the orchestra and chorus of Opera North, filling Leeds Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre with Orpheus’s dreams, his reminiscences and his struggle for redemption.

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