The premiere of a specially commissioned work by composer Will Todd in commemoration of the centenary of the World War One Armistice will bring various arms of Opera North together.
Opera North’s Orchestra, Youth Chorus, Young Voices and Children’s Chorus will perform Songs of Love and Battle, with Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs on 1 December at Leeds Town Hall. Prior to this, the performance will take place at Huddersfield Town Hall on 22 November.
The conductor – and Opera North’s former Music Director – is Richard Farnes. Johnny Herford joins the ensemble for Songs of Love and Battle, and Fflur Wyn will sing the texts in Gorecki’s Symphony No.3.
With a libretto by Maggie Gottlieb, Songs of Love and Battle is a ‘micro-opera’, telling the tale of a Yorkshire woman and her brother, who has been sent to fight in the War. Opera North’s young singers will take the roles of townspeople, English and German soldiers, mourners and narrators.
Will Todd said “I was so excited to be asked to write a work for Opera North’s youth ensembles. I had heard a fabulous performance by the Children’s Chorus at the South Bank Centre in London in 2016 and I knew that this was a group who could perform with great energy and passion!
As we approach the 100th anniversary of the 1914-18 War, which affected so many lives, and in which so many lives were lost, Maggie Gottlieb and I have been working on a piece which would remember, and in some way comment upon, that terrible conflict.
Songs of Love and Battle provides a narrative on the pain and devastation of war, and a perspective on the young lives lost on both sides.
With such brilliant young singers and the expertise of the creative and musical teams at Opera North, I know that the first ever performances in Yorkshire will be amazing events.”
The ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ picks up the themes of loss and separation in Songs of Love and Battle. It begins with a 15th century lament and closes with a message left on the wall of a prison cell by a young girl during the Second World War.
Feature photograph by Justin Slee.
Tickets for The Songs of War at Huddersfield Town Hall on 22 November are priced from £13.00 – £27.00 (concessions available), just £1.00 for ages 16 and under, and £4.00 for ages 17 – 29.
At Leeds Town Hall on 1 December, tickets are priced from £18.55 to £38.16, with 50% off for under 18s, students and unwaged, and £1.50 off for over 60s. For more information and to book, visit operanorth.co.uk or contact Box Office on 0844 848 272
Adam combines his interest in Leeds with a flair for writing discovered back in school days. He says he’ll tackle any topic as long as it’s Leeds.