Yorkshire, as Ed Milliband discovered to his election-trail embarrassment last week, is different.
Opera North (based in Leeds, Yorks.) has just announced its new season.
It features English Rose soprano and all-round good sport Leslie Garrett in the world premiere of a chamber opera set in a gay nightclub.
Further details: Mark Simpson’s chamber opera, Pleasure, tells the story of Val (Lesley Garrett), who works as an attendant in the toilets in Pleasure, a hedonistic gay club in the north of England. When Nathan, a beautiful and unpredictable young man, arrives in Pleasure and leaves a gift for Val, it marks the beginning of an emotional and violent night.
Rest of the season follows.
OPERA NORTH ANNOUNCES FULL 15/16 SEASON INCLUDING KISS ME, KATE, ANDREA CHÉNIER, INTO THE WOODS AND THE RING CYCLE
Opera North’s 2015/16 season opens in style with a brand new production of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate, a co-production with Welsh National Opera. A landmark of 20th century American musical theatre, Kiss Me, Kate is directed by Jo Davies following critical and audience acclaim for her previous productions of Carousel, The Marriage of Figaro andRuddigore.
Staging Porter’s witty, jazz-inflected reworking of The Taming of the Shrew, with classic numbers including ‘Too Darn Hot’ and ‘Always True to You in My Fashion,’ is the realisation of a longstanding ambition of Opera North’s, and follows on from the Company’s previous productions of pieces by Kurt Weill, Stephen Sondheim, George Gershwin and Rodgers and Hammerstein. This new production of Kiss Me, Kate is designed by Colin Richmond with choreography by Will Tuckett, and features casting from both opera and musical theatre, including Quirijn de Lang as Fred Graham/Petruchio and Jeni Bern as Lilli Vanessi/Katherine.
Giordano’s Andrea Chénier is given a new production by Annabel Arden, exploring the chaos of revolution and the role of the artist in a time of political turmoil. Conducted by Oliver von Dohnányi, the cast includes Rafael Rojas as Chénier,Robert Hayward as Gérard and Annemarie Kremer as Maddelena, returning to Opera North following memorable performances in the title role of Norma (2012) and as Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito (2013).
Much-loved works return to Opera North’s repertoire, bringing together the ensemble talents of a new generation of UK and international singers. Our productions of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Donizetti’sL’elisir d’amore have been enjoyed by audiences throughout the North and further afield; the latter two, in particular, demonstrating Opera North’s international reach – Così has played at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in New York andElisir at Spain’s Ópera de Oviedo.
Tom Cairns’ intense and powerful production of Jenůfa also returns, now with Swedish soprano Ylva Kihlberg (Emilia Marty, The Makropulos Case, 2012) in the title role and Susan Bickley as the Kostelnička, conducted by the young Serbian conductor Aleksandar Marković. As well as making his Opera North main house debut, Marković will open theOrchestra of Opera North’s 2015/16 symphonic concert programme in September, with a concert at Huddersfield Town Hall as part of the Kirklees Concert Season.
The Orchestra of Opera North plays a vital role in concert series in the Yorkshire region and stands alone in its ability to perform as both an opera and a concert orchestra. Its approach is fresh and enthusiastic and offers Opera North great versatility in our performance capabilities. Concert highlights in 2015/16 include Richard Farnes continuing his tenure with a performance of Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra, part of both the Kirklees Concert Season and the Leeds International Concert Season, and Jac van Steen conducting a programme of classical and neo-classical repertoire including Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in the Royal Concert Hall, Harrogate.
Another returning artist is Howard Shelley, back after his Chandos recording of Beethoven’s complete works for piano and orchestra with the Orchestra of Opera North, to play and conduct Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, Op 73, ‘The Emperor,’ while David Angus returns to conduct Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.
New collaborations and commissions
A new chamber opera, Pleasure, receives its world premiere at the Howard Assembly Room at Opera North in April 2016. It is the fourth new opera commissioned and produced as part of a three-year partnership between Aldeburgh Music, The Royal Opera and Opera North. Created by the young composer Mark Simpson and writer Melanie Challenger, the opera tells the story of Val (Lesley Garrett), who works as an attendant in the toilets in Pleasure, a hedonistic gay club in the north of England. When Nathan, a beautiful and unpredictable young man, arrives in Pleasure and leaves a gift for Val, it marks the beginning of an emotional and violent night. This new production is directed by Tim Albery, with set and costume designs by Leslie Travers.
Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a major artistic collaboration between Opera North and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, will be staged in June 2016. It brings together two of Leeds’ top arts organisations for their first ever large scale co-production, directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining.
Casting for Into the Woods will draw on the musical and dramatic strengths of the versatile members of the Chorus of Opera North, the Company’s core full-time professional ensemble, many of whom regularly take principal roles in Opera North’s productions.
Howard Assembly Room and Opera North Projects
The 2015/16 season will continue to see a stunning range of guest artists giving performances in the Howard Assembly Room, a venue in the heart of Leeds with an eclectic programme of music, film, performance and talks that is continuing to build its reputation for varied, exciting and unusual programming. Leading international artists visiting the Howard Assembly Room in 15/16 include the sufi singer Sain Zahoor, Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu, the Brodsky Quartet, pianist Freddy Kempf, tenor Mark Padmore and pianist Simon Lepper, and in a new collaboration withLeeds Lieder, Kate Royal and Joseph Middleton.
Many of the events in the Howard Assembly Room are commissioned, curated and produced by Opera North Projects, which creates an alternative strand of work across different artforms, with a focus on collaboration. Current projects includeLulu: A Murder Ballad, created and co-produced with The Tiger Lillies in 2014, which now tours to London for the first time with a week of performances in November 2015 at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House.
The company continues to redefine the artform for new audiences, taking two Opera North Projects commissions to festivals stages at Latitude and Wilderness in Summer 2015. I am Yours, Yours am I’, will travel to Latitude as the Thursday night takeover in the ‘Faraway Forest,’ a site-specific open air setting for the ethereal love duet ‘Pur ti miro’ from Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea (Thu 16 July 2015). The Devil’s Jukebox, a tour of five centuries of Faustian music curated by cellist Matthew Sharp, will be the Saturday night headliner on the arts stage at Wilderness Festival(Sat 8 August 2015).
Opera North Projects commissions around The Ring include a new folk-based performance exploring Northern mythology and traditional songs, and the annual Liberty Lectures series in the Howard Assembly Room taking the theme of Apocalypse from Götterdämmerung.