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Christmas at Opera North

For our 40th Christmas, we’re gearing up for a December dash around Yorkshire and beyond, distributing festive cheer with a packed month of orchestral and choral spectaculars, live soundtracks, pop-up performances and fun for all the family.

On Giving Tuesday, the Company launched All Together Now, this year’s Christmas appeal as part of its year-round Community Partnerships scheme, which links up with over 100 groups and organisations. Contributions to the appeal will enable vulnerable or isolated individuals to enjoy music and opera over the festive period.

A backstage tour as part of Opera North's Community Partnerships programme in conjunction with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. © Justin Slee

The true story of the 1914 Christmas truce in the trenches of the Western Front is told in the UK premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night, opening at Leeds Town Hall on 30 November. On Christmas Eve, a German opera singer-turned-soldier is returning to the front when he hears Scottish troops singing and adds his voice to theirs. An international cast joins the Orchestra of Opera North and a 100-strong male chorus including singers from the Chorus and Youth Chorus of Opera North, students from the Royal Northern College of Music and members of the community for a spectacular concert staging of this cinematic and intensely moving opera. A performance by the Silent Night Creatives, a community ensemble featuring 22 men aged between 16 and 80, will precede the first performance at 6.15pm, and the matinee on Sunday 2 December, from 3.15pm.

Opera North will be marking the 16th year of its partnership with Kirklees Council with something for everyone at the Kirklees Concert Season this Christmas. Traditionally the centrepiece of the Company’s celebrations, this year’s Opera North Christmas Concert at Dewsbury Town Hall (20 December) features Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, followed by a selection of festive classics, seasonal treats and audience carols. Garry Walker conducts the Orchestra of Opera North and the massed voices of the company’s Chorus, Youth Chorus and Young Voices.

On 13 December, a concert screening of The Gruffalo’s Child and The Highway Rat brings the enchanting animations of two of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s best-loved creations to Huddersfield Town Hall, screened with live accompaniment from the Orchestra of Opera North. A wonderful panto alternative that’s perfect for all ages, it’s also a great introduction to the thrill of live music for younger audiences.

All the stops will be pulled out at the Kirklees Lunchtime Concert Season, too, beginning with Nigel Ogden’s Christmas organ concert at Huddersfield Town Hall on 3 December. The Royal Northern College of Music Brass Band and conductor Phillip McCann drop in for the annual Christmas Brass Band Spectacular on 10 December, and this joyful sleigh-ride through festive classics and carols moves on to Dewsbury Town Hall on 12 December. Back in Huddersfield on 20 December, Borough Organist Gordon Stewart is joined by the Huddersfield Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs in Music for Christmas, a programme of festive music from around the world, with the hall decorated for the season and organ works from Bach and others, carols for all to sing, and the uplifting voices of the young choirs.

On 16 December the Orchestra of Opera North returns to Leeds Town Hall to perform the live soundtrack to a screening of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved animation The Snowman, which is preceded by a trip to a magical land of toys and sweets with excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with live narration.

On 17 December the Opera North Festive Fanfare returns to Trinity Leeds, with young singers from the Company’s In Harmony schools programme joined by the Chorus of Opera North and a brass ensemble from the Orchestra of Opera North to serenade shoppers. The carols and rousing festive brass numbers begin under the dome at 2.40pm, and audience participation is encouraged.

Opera North's Festive Fanfare, Trinity Leeds © Tom Arber

A musical telling of Gogol’s The Night Before Christmas by the CHROMA Ensemble and Matthew Sharp opens the Howard Assembly Room’s trio of Christmas events on 15 December. There’s fun for under-5s with Five Little Reindeer on 17 December, and The Tallis Scholars bring a festive programme of Byrd, Palestrina and more on 19 December. All three events are currently sold out, but there’s more early vocal music in the New Year for the Howard Assembly Room’s 10th anniversary season – its last before closing for Opera North’s Music Works redevelopment – with Tenebrae and The Cardinall’s Musick.

Stephanie Corley as Hanna Glawari in Opera North's 2010 production of The Merry Widow © Alastair Muir

The festivities continue when the Viennese Whirl sets off to Huddersfield Town Hall (29 December), Leeds Town Hall (30 December) and Hull City Hall (31 December), with a glittering collection of music as heard at the Musikverein in Vienna in celebration of the New Year. Classic waltzes, polkas, marches and overtures by the Strauss family, Offenbach and more are performed by the Orchestra of Opera North. Soprano Stephanie Corley, most recently seen in Opera North’s international tour of Kiss Me, Kate this spring and summer, joins the ensemble to sing excerpts from Die Fledermaus, and Vilja’s Song from The Merry Widow – another title role that she has sung for the Company.

For more information and to book tickets for any of our Christmas events, click on the links above.

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