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A Little Night Music revives a sparkling partnership

We’re delighted to announce a stellar team of cast and creatives for our second major collaboration with Leeds Playhouse, a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s exquisitely acerbic A Little Night Music, opening in Leeds in May 2020.

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Leeds Playhouse’s Artistic Director James Brining returns to direct, following his work on our first collaboration, the celebrated 2016 production of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as a kaleidoscopic Magic Flute for us earlier this year.

A Little Night Music will revive another sparkling partnership, with soprano Stephanie Corley and Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang – last seen together as Fred and Lilli in Kiss Me, Kate – in the roles of Desiree Armfeldt and Frederik Egerman, the former lovers whose chance meeting sparks a game of romantic musical chairs. An Opera North favourite of even longer standing, the legendary Dame Josephine Barstow casts a sardonic eye over proceedings as Madam Armfeldt, after her recent standout performance in Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre.

Stephanie Corley as Lilli Vanessi and Quirijn de Lang as Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate (2018) © Tristram Kenton

Other roles are taken by the stars of Into the Woods, our prodigiously talented Chorus: Alex Banfield plays callow young Henrik Egerman, Amy J Payne is the maidservant Petra and Christopher Nairne and Helen Évora take on the roles of Count and Countess Malcolm. The young British soprano Jennifer Clark will follow her Company debut in The Turn of the Screw as the ingénue Anne Egerman.

Members of the Chorus of Opera North in Into the Woods (2016) © Manuel Harlan

A specialist in American musical theatre whose Opera North credits include Sweeney Todd, Carousel, Kiss Me, Kate, Into the Woods, and the upcoming Street Scene, our former Head of Music James Holmes conducts; and designer Madeleine Boyd (Don Giovanni, The Turn of the Screw and La traviata) has Sondheim’s country house setting teetering between decadence and decay.

Memorably described by its first director as “whipped cream with knives”, A Little Night Music is based on Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night. It finds Sondheim at his most radiantly witty as librettist and composer, with its delirious, overlapping love triangles above and below stairs mirrored in its ¾ time, and Desiree’s devastating ‘Send in the Clowns’ laying bare the self-deception and regret beneath its sophisticated sheen.

James Brining, Artistic Director, Leeds Playhouse, comments:

“When we collaborated with Opera North on Into The Woods it was a fantastic opportunity to show how the two organisations can not only produce an incredible piece of theatre but learn from each other.

“Working with the Chorus of Opera North allows us to expand on the repertoire of musicals we stage here in Leeds and it is brilliant to be building on that partnership once again for A Little Night Music. Sondheim’s musical is one which looks at those big emotions we all can identify with whether that be socially or emotionally through the sacrifices we make and the path we choose.”

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, comments:

“Following the success of Into the Woods I am delighted that Opera North and Leeds Playhouse will come together for our second large scale collaboration, on another superb Sondheim musical.

“Over the years Opera North has embraced the Broadway musical as an integral part of our repertoire, benefiting from the scale and skill of our resident Chorus and Orchestra, who have responded to this aspect of our work with enormous commitment and enthusiasm.

“Having experienced James Brining’s brilliant dramaturgy and sheer inventiveness as a director in his work with us on Into the Woods and his operatic debut The Magic Flute, we are all incredibly excited to have him back on board for our next venture together.”

A Little Night Music opens at Leeds Playhouse on 14 May 2020.

Tickets are on sale to our Friends and Patrons, Leeds Playhouse’s Patrons and Playhouse Pass holders from 4pm on Thursday 26 September, with tickets on general sale from 10am on Tuesday 1 October.

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