In characteristic style, Opera North’s main stage plans for opera’s special year of 2013 include a spectacular range of opera and music. We take full advantage of the opportunity to celebrate the anniversaries of three of the greatest opera composers of all time – Verdi, Wagner and Benjamin Britten – so our 2013 season contains major works from each of them.
The year kicks off with Verdi’s mighty Otello, which appears in the Opera North repertoire for the very first time. With a new production by Tim Albery under the baton of Music Director Richard Farnes, this promises to be an unmissable event.
Another first for the Company is Mozart’s late masterpiece La clemenza di Tito in which we welcome back Paul Nilon in the title role alongside Annemarie Kremer (last year’s Norma) as the fiery Vitellia. Douglas Boyd conducts, so listen out for some Mozartian fireworks!
Making a long awaited return to the opera stage and to the Company is the world-famous soprano Lesley Garrett in the unusual role of Elle in Francis Poulenc’s one-woman opera La voix humaine, a role which will undoubtedly bring Lesley’s supreme vocal and dramatic skills to the fore. La voix humaine forms the first part of a double bill with Henry Purcell’s only opera Dido and Aeneas, which features Pamela Helen Stephen (Julius Caesar in 2012) in the role of Dido. With Wyn Davies conducting both operas, this promises to be an extraordinary musical and dramatic journey in just one evening.
After Easter, our season takes on a new look. Three works in three venues, beginning with Handel’s mighty oratorio Joshua. Staged in the splendour of Leeds Grand Theatre, this will give Opera North’s splendid Chorus the opportunity to shine in some of Handel’s grandest and most inspiring music.
Then begins our tribute to Benjamin Britten, as we mount his sublime village comedy Albert Herring in a chamber space; the exquisite Howard Assembly Room at Opera North. We have assembled a strong cast of wonderful characters led by the quintessential singing actress Dame Josephine Barstow as Lady Billows, accompanied by principal players from the Orchestra of Opera North under the leadership of Justin Doyle. This is a unique chance to experience opera up close.
The Spring season is completed by the next instalment of Opera North’s ongoing Ring cycle as we celebrate the bicentenary of Richard Wagner. Siegfried opens at Leeds Town Hall before touring to Gateshead, Birmingham and Salford, and is already keenly anticipated by the public and the media. In our Music Director Richard Farnes we clearly have the British Wagnerian conductor of our times and with a strong international line up of singers, this promises to be one of the year’s great highlights.
Uniquely amongst British opera companies, Opera North celebrates the talent of Britain’s consummate composer for the theatre with a Festival of Britten in the autumn of 2013, which marks the return of two great Opera North productions, Peter Grimes and A Midsummer Night's Dream, to the repertoire. Tickets will undoubtedly be at a premium. To complete our Britten trilogy we stage, for the very first time, his haunting final opera Death in Venice, based on the novella by Thomas Mann and starring Alan Oke in the leading role of Aschenbach in a startlingly beautiful production by Yoshi Oida which has already taken the opera world by storm in Aldeburgh, Bregenz, Lyon and Toronto.
This is a season of celebration: of great opera and great performances, and one which epitomises Opera North’s spirit of innovation and adventure.