Thursday 16 March 2023

Frida, Maria & co: Leeds Opera Festival goes Latin American for 2023

Leeds Opera Festival 2023

There is a Latin American theme to the 2023 Leeds Opera Festival. Taking place in over a dozen venues across Leeds and organised by Northern Opera Group, this year's festival runs from 19 August to 10 September 2023 and features the UK premiere of Robert Rodriguez' opera Frida, about the artist Frida Kahlo, and a new production of Astor Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires.

Since its premiere in 1991, Robert Rodriguez' opera Frida has been enormously successful in the USA, but is only now making its way to the UK. It was commissioned by the American Music Theater Festival and tells the life story of the artist Frida Kahlo. The Leeds Opera Festival production will be directed by Francesca Murray-Fuentes and conducted by Odaline de la Martinez, and the cast includes Parvathi Subbiah, Jacobo Ochoa, and Julia Merino.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Robert Xavier Rodriguez' teachers have included Nadia Boulanger, Jacob Druckman, Bruno Maderna and Elliott Carter. Rodriguez describes Frida's idiom as "in the Gershwin, Sondheim, Kurt Weill tradition of dissolving the barriers and extending the common ground between opera and musical theater".

A new production of Piazzolla's tango operita, Maria de Buenos Aires, will be given in collaboration with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, choreographed & directed by Carlos Pons Guerra and conducted by Natalia Luis-Bassa.

A new pop-up opera by composer Jose Puello and writer Zodwa Nyoni will be touring venues across Leeds and surrounding areas. The opera is being developed with young people from primary schools in Leeds who are taking part in workshops on traditional Latin American folk stories and songs.

Additionally, there is a programme of talks, workshops and recitals, including works by Latin American female composers from Helen Glaisher Hernandez and Lorena Paz Nieto, a concert from Cuban guitarist Ahmed Dickinson, and a rare UK appearance from Spanish pianist Jose Luis Nieto.

Full details from the festival website.

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