With this year’s Leeds’ Light Night fast approaching we caught up with Projects Manager Jo Nockels to find out more about I am Yours, Yours am I.
What does Opera North Projects have in store for this year’s Light Night?
Light Night gives Opera North an opportunity to explore different ways of presenting classical music. Light Night helps us to start from a point of real creative opportunity, where we just have this amazing music and the question ‘what on earth shall we do with it?’ For us that means not putting a performance on a stage, but exploring how a performance could be if the singers and musicians were to get off the stage, performing around both the space and audience.
This year we’re taking our inspiration directly from our production of Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea. Our Light Night project this year uses the final duet from that opera presented in lots of different ways with different singers performing the roles of the lovers.
Why did you choose the final duet from Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea?
That particular piece of music has so many facets to it. In one sense, it is the most beautiful operatic love duet you could ever possibly imagine, set to swooningly gorgeous music. The final duet builds to the moment of perfect happiness in the opera, where the lovers find each other: they’re going to be together and all will be fantastic.
However, the opera is based on real people from history, the emperor Nero and his lover Poppea. In history, outside the time frame of the opera, Nero murdered Poppea and most original audiences of the opera probably would have known that. To experience the opera with that knowledge means that, although the final duet symbolises a perfect moment where love triumphs, there is a dark thread attached to the piece too. To me it feels that this undercurrent is there in the music as well, and that it’s a tale very much about sexual passion, power and possession, not just about love. So there’s a layer running deep underneath it that we wanted to explore.
How will the performances work on event night?
It’s a live music installation, so performances happen around every ten minutes in the Howard Assembly Room throughout Light Night, and music plays nearly non-stop. As if by magic we’ll transform the space into a beautiful garden. Within the garden, the singers will come out of a summer house and begin to sing as audience members sit around them and the musicians play. The audience are free to come and go, to spend time, listen, enjoy and stay as long as they like.
How do you reach out to audiences and members of the public, particularly through something like Light Night which invites audiences from all different walks of life?
Overall, we try to take an active, flexible and respectful approach to reaching audiences as a whole company and offer a huge range of ways of getting involved with music and performance. Making things for Light Night I spend a lot of my time thinking about the performance, where the singers are, what ideas to explore or how the space will look. The thing is, on the night, it’s always just as much about what the audience do, the dynamic they make in coming and going, how they move, how they interact with the piece, the environment. The combination of all those elements, for both us and the audience, make an amazing buzz.
Are you looking forward to welcoming the people of Leeds to Opera North’s Italianate Garden?
Definitely, the only problem is that we don’t get out to see all of the other amazing things that are going on throughout the city on Light Night!
Opera North's 2014 Light Night installation I am yours, yours am I runs from 5.30pm – 10pm (with performances every 10mins) on Light Night Friday 3rd October at the Howard Assembly Room, 46 New Briggate,LS1 6NU and again 5-7pm on the 4th October.