Explore the thrilling world of opera and its component parts in our new series of podcasts, produced as part of the DARE partnership between Opera North and the University of Leeds.

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Episode 4: Simon Armitage and Gavin Bryars on Words and Music

Poet Laureate and Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds Simon Armitage and composer Gavin Bryars consider what happens when their respective art forms are brought together.

They each discuss their lifelong engagement with words and music, and the pleasures and perils of bridging the two disciplines as artists. Excerpts from their work are woven throughout, including tracks by Armitage’s post rock/ambient outfit LYR, and Bryars’ influential 1971 work Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.

Chaired by Dr Kimberly Campanello of the University of Leeds.

Episode 3: Thomas Adès and Operas of Confinement

Professor Edward Venn and Aletta Collins

How do music, plot, staging, action, dance and performance combine to produce meaning for an opera audience?

Taking a close look at Thomas Adès’s The Tempest, Professor Edward Venn of the University of Leeds and choreographer and director Aletta Collins – who choreographed the opera’s premiere in 2004 – explore the conversation between different elements in opera.

They also consider the notions of confinement and restricted movement in all three of Adès’s operas: The Tempest, Powder Her Face (1995), and The Exterminating Angel (2016), which take on a new significance in the COVID-era.

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Episode 2: Carnivalesque

Professor Alan O’Leary and Daniel Norman

“The licence to misbehave.”

From Monteverdi to Monty Python, cross-dressing, gross-out humour and a preoccupation with the grotesque seems to offer a release from the constraints of morality and social conventions.

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Warning: this podcast features frank discussion of bodily functions!

Episode 1: Performing Violence

Professor Griselda Pollock

“In cinema you are a spectator; in opera you are present. I’m fascinated by the notion that we witness in opera: we have to endure.”

Ranging from Ancient Greece to The Godfather, and focusing on the operas of Puccini and Verdi, the 2020 Holberg Prize Laureate Professor Griselda Pollock discusses with Opera North Projects Director, Dominic Gray, how violence is represented in painting, sculpture, film and literature, how it is performed in opera, and its implications.

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