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A Big Weekend of Little Operas


Virtuoso or newcomer, there’s a chance for everyone to put their operatic stamina to the test this October by watching all of The Little Greats in a single weekend at Leeds Grand Theatre.

With its emphasis on short operas with huge emotions, The Little Greats festival is the perfect way for people to go on a unique voyage of operatic discovery, experiencing all the intensity, emotional power and variety of opera in six shorter works, each lasting around an hour. Starting with a double-bill on Friday 20 October and continuing with four very different pieces on the Saturday afternoon and evening, it takes the audience on a journey from light-hearted musical theatre to iconic Italian passion and revenge. Anyone looking for a special place to stay for the weekend can also take advantage of an exclusive bed and breakfast deal with boutique hotel Malmaison in the heart of the city.

The experience begins on the Friday night with Janáček’s ground-breaking and rarely-performed gem, Osud (Destiny) which tells the story of a composer’s tangled love affair with his muse. This is partnered with Ravel’s charming fantasy opera, L’enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Magic Spells), an inventive and darkly brilliant tale of a child who learns empathy and forgiveness when his surroundings come to life after he throws a tantrum.

Saturday afternoon sees a foray into musical theatre with a matinee performance of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, a stylish satire on the emptiness of the American dream, followed by Gilbert and Sullivan’s fast-paced courtroom farce, Trial by Jury, cast entirely from the Chorus of Opera North. Finally, on the Saturday night, there are two classic Italian operas packed with raw passion, volatile jealousy and heart-searing music: Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (The Clowns) and Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry).

For those planning to stay in the city, Opera North has joined forces with luxury hotel Malmaison Leeds. Packages start from £258 per room (based on two people sharing) which includes two nights bed and breakfast accomodation.

Tickets for each opera are also being sold separately so people can choose to build their own package if they prefer, seeing as many of the productions as they wish, and adding in a pre-show talk or the award-winning film Carol in the Howard Assembly Room on the Saturday. There is also the option of an early dinner on the Friday at the Malmaison before the first opera, and afternoon tea on the Saturday in-between the afternoon and evening performances. 

The best way to book is via the Opera North Box Office on 0844 848 2720 (calls cost 7p pm + access charge) where a bespoke package can be created. Hotel rooms and refreshments can also be booked online; tickets for individual operas will need to be purchased separately.

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