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Announcing new BBC broadcasts this Spring

We’re excited to announce a series of new broadcast and digital projects available this Spring:

  • Orpheus in the Record Shop will be broadcast on BBC Four on Wed 21 April, 11pm, then available to stream on iPlayer
  • A newly recorded concert with the Orchestra of Opera North under Richard Farnes will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Wed 28 April, 7.30pm
  • Orfeo ed Euridice will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sat 1 May, 6.30pm

Orpheus in the Record Shop

A filmed version of this co-production with Leeds Playhouse will be broadcast on BBC Four on 21 April and BBC iPlayer part of #BBCLightsUp, an unprecedented season of plays for BBC TV and radio, produced in partnership with theatres across the UK and continuing BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.

Inspired by the Ancient Greek myth, acclaimed rapper and playwright Testament (Black Men Walking, The Beatboxer, WOKE) fuses spoken word and beatboxing with a cinematic score performed by members of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, filling Leeds Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre with Orpheus’s dreams, his reminiscences and his struggle for redemption.

Orpheus is alone, playing tunes in his record shop, when a visit from an enigmatic stranger sets his fragile reality into a spin.  Driven by an astonishing original soundtrack of hip hop, soul and funk, he ventures back into the past to confront some painful truths. Rooted in myths ancient and modern, from the journey of a classical hero to the magical, crackling aura of a vinyl record, this is a compelling examination of isolation and the redemptive power of music.

Testament and the Orchestra of Opera North in Orpheus in the Record Shop © Opera North

Orpheus in the Record Shop premiered to a socially-distanced audience in October 2020 and was originally directed and designed for the stage by Aletta Collins. The filmed version is directed by James Brining and Alex Ramseyer-Bache, with cast including Testament as Orpheus and Helen Évora as Justine.

Jonty Claypole, BBC Director of Arts, comments:

“BBC Lights Up is a major broadcast season celebrating the creativity and resilience of UK theatre in its darkest hour. It’s that seemingly impossible thing: a theatre festival in the midst of a pandemic, consisting of eighteen original productions from theatres and producers right across the UK.

Testament’s Orpheus in the Record Shop is an entertaining, poetic and deeply moving show written and performed by one of the most exciting creative voices working anywhere in the UK right now. I am delighted it is joining BBC Lights Up, and that BBC audiences around the country will have access to this acclaimed production.”

Orchestra of Opera North in concert

Two newly recorded concerts will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 this Spring. Our former Music Director Richard Farnes returns to conduct the Orchestra of Opera North in a concert featuring Sibelius’ Pelléas and Mélisande Suite, Janáček’s Katya Kabanova Suite, and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Suite, broadcast on 28 April.

Richard Farnes conducts © Clive Barda

Orfeo ed Euridice

We’ll also be returning to the Orpheus myth with a concert recording of Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice. The performance is conducted from the harpsichord by Laurence Cummings, with guest soloists Paula Murrihy (Orfeo), Fflur Wyn (Euridice) and Daisy Brown (Amore) joining the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North.

The broadcast of Orfeo ed Euridice on BBC Radio 3 on 1 May will be accompanied by a specially commissioned behind-the-scenes film, documenting the recording of the concert in real time and giving a unique insight into the recording process taking place at Leeds Town Hall. The 90-minute film, directed by Andrew Quick, will be available to watch on our ONDemand platform later this Spring.

Paula Murrihy as Orfeo during the recording of Orfeo ed Euridice, Leeds Town Hall, March 2021 © Justin Slee

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, comments:

“At a time when performing and playing together has become much more of a challenge, bringing our musicians together with some exceptional guest artists to make these new recordings and films for broadcast in partnership with the BBC is a true pleasure.

“The first live performances of Orpheus in the Record Shop between lockdowns last year were an extraordinary achievement, drawing on the capacious talents of Testament as a writer and performer, and the combined forces of Opera North and Leeds Playhouse. Having brought together the two companies’ expertise in dramaturgy and directing for camera, we’re delighted to be able to share this unique and inspirational work with so many more people through this substantially reworked capture and broadcast.”


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