It’s a good thing, in that case, that Opera North have taken so much trouble to put together a wonderful, ambitious season, crowned by the completion of its £18m building project, Music Works.
The season (hopefully) kicks off in September—which is with any luck enough time for us to have kicked out coronavirus—with a revival of Alessandro Talevi’s production of Verdi’s classic, much loved opera La Traviata. This has two casts, each headed by Opera North newcomers Anna Denisova and Camila Titinger, both playing Violetta.
Fans of Opera North will know of the company’s resoundingly successful collaboration with Northern Ballet last year. I’m glad to see that this partnership continues this year with a ballet and a short opera—each by Leonard Bernstein—in one performance. These will be the West Side Story Symphonic Dances and Trouble in Tahiti. For the latter, we’ll be joined by favourite singers Quirijn de Lang and Sandra Piques Eddy, who will be directed by Matthew Eberhardt.
Rounding off the Autumn season will be a new, exciting opera by Iain Bell on Jack the Ripper. The libretto, by Emma Jenkins, moves focus away from the famous killer and places it onto the lives of his victims. It is likely to be a humane and moving treatment. It will be graced by vocal luminaries Dame Josephine Barstow, Lesley Garrett, and Elin Pritchard.
The Winter season promises more excitement with another classic, Bizet’s Carmen, in a production by Garry Walker, Opera North’s new Music Director. This will be directed by Edward Dick, with singers Chrystal E. Williams and Antoine Bélanger in the lead roles.
Fellow Puccini-obsessives will be delighted to see that The Girl of the Golden West will be part of this season in a production by Aletta Collins. This will see performances from many Opera North favourites, such as Rafael Rojas, Magdalena Molendowska, and conductor Antony Hermus.
Tim Albery, a sensitive director whose work we are lucky to have in Leeds, offers a production of Handel’s Alcina. This sees favourite Opera North singer Máire Flavin in the title role with Patrick Terry as Ruggiero.
Additionally, this Alcina will be Opera North’s first ever ‘sustainable production’, using only recycled and re-used items in sets, props, and costumes. The company intends to expand this in its 2021/22 season with three such productions!
Looking slightly ahead to Spring 2021, there will be a production of Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal under the more-than-able baton of Richard Farnes, with a mighty cast of singers such as Toby Spence, Katarina Karnéus, Brindley Sherratt, Robert Hayward, and Eric Greene. P.J. Harris will direct.
Anyone who saw any of Opera North’s Ring will know that this will be a special, unmissable experience!