Many events previously announced as part of Opera North’s Switch ON season this autumn have now been postponed or rearranged.
The company will continue to work with schools, youth ensembles and adults, offering virtual workshops and teaching.
From Couch to Chorus: The Festive Edition is under way, with more than 1500 people sign up to join the virtual choir, with members of the chorus of Opera North, to learn opera choruses and festive favourites in the run-up to Christmas.
Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella is postponed to early next year, but will be filmed and will be free to view online in December. This will no doubt be a welcome alternative to the annual pantomime trip. It is a magical tour of several different musical takes on the fairy tale, including Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Massenet’s Cendrillon, Pauline Viardot’s operetta Cendrillon and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella.
As You Are, a headphones-based outdoor soundwalk, composed by Abel Selaocoe and recorded with the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, and La petite bohème, Matthew Robins’ 20-minute animation of Act III of Puccini’s La bohème, will be re-scheduled in line with COVID-19 constraints.
Opera North: “We are determined to return to live performance and to resume touring opera as soon as we are able, and we are working closely with our partner venues to develop further plans for early 2021. We hope very much to be able to share a tour of opera performances with our audiences across the North of England, but we are mindful of the rapidly changing times in which we live and will wait until further Government guidance allows us to confirm a firmer schedule for this period.”
“We have made the difficult decision that our planned tour of Wagner’s Parsifal, scheduled for May/June 2021 must now be postponed to a future year. The scale of musical forces needed to perform this work, with over 130 musicians on stage, will not be possible to achieve with social distancing in place for performers. We are firmly committed to performing Parsifal in a future year once this scale of performance becomes feasible.
To replace the Parsifal dates in 2021, we will present an evening of music from Wagner’s Ring, conducted by Richard Farnes and using Jonathan Dove’s orchestrations.
This specially devised event will look at the parallels to be drawn between Wagner’s mythical realm, in which the gods’ violation of the natural world is an intrinsic aspect of their power, and the destruction of our own environment. As a companion piece to Opera North’s complete 2016 Ring cycle, which is currently available to watch online for free, this new event will include extracts from the Ring featuring singers who were to appear in Parsifal.”
Those who already have tickets for Parsifal can expect contact from the box office for each venue, when you will have a choice for a credit, a full refund or to make a donation.
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North:
“Throughout 2020, we have stayed true to our purpose of creating extraordinary experiences with music and opera in communities across the North and beyond. The return to lockdown is a significant setback, but our determination to make music is undiminished and we refuse to fall silent.
We had planned to return to fully staged productions in November and December in Leeds and on tour, and our productions of The Seven Deadly Sins and Fidelio promise to be extraordinary musical and theatrical experiences. We are determined they will be shared and we are delighted to be able to stream them, sharing the thrill of live musical performance, not least during this lockdown when audiences are once more deprived of live events in person.
As we head into 2021, it is clear that the landscape in which we operate is still shifting and that planning events with certainty is not yet possible. We will continue to innovate and to work with creativity, generosity and determination to make music for everyone. We have made the incredibly difficult decision to postpone our much-anticipated concert staging of Parsifal next spring, at a moment when there can be no guarantee that social distancing restrictions will have been eased sufficiently for us to bring more than 130 performers together on stage. We are committed to re-scheduling Parsifal for a future year, and at the same time we are excited by the possibility of creating a new evening of music drawn from Wagner’s Ring to tour in 2021.”
Photograph (The Seven Deadly Sins) by Tristram Kenton, provided by Opera North.