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New season announced for 2020/21

Opera North is a crucible of creativity, rooted in the north of England yet open to the world. Our aim remains to create extraordinary experiences every day, for everyone.

We are proud to announce Opera North’s mainstage season for 2020/21 today, with new productions including Carmen conducted by Music Director Garry Walker, Wagner’s final epic, Parsifal, Handel’s Alcina, our first sustainable production, and a new collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre.

La traviata (Verdi)
Trouble in Tahiti / West Side Story Symphonic Dances (Bernstein)
Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel (Iain Bell)
Carmen (Bizet)
Alcina (Handel)
The Girl of the Golden West (Puccini)
Parsifal (Wagner)

Download full Performance Diary »

Opening the autumn season in September is a revival of Alessandro Talevi’s deeply moving production of La traviata, a work which has already introduced many to the emotional appeal of opera. Two young casts will be conducted by Jonathan Webb and Manoj Kamps, with Anna Denisova and Camila Titinger both making their Opera North debuts as Violetta.

La traviata rehearsals at Leeds Grand Theatre (2014) © Tom Arber

Following The Rite of Spring in 2019, Opera North collaborates once again with Phoenix Dance Theatre. Devised and choreographed by Aletta Collins, West Side Story Symphonic Dances will interpret Bernstein’s thrilling, poignant music outside of the narrative of the popular musical. It will play in a double bill with a revival of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, directed by Matthew Eberhardt and featuring Quirijn de Lang as Sam and Sandra Piques Eddy as Dinah.

Phoenix Dance Theatre in rehearsal for The Rite of Spring (2019) © Jack Thomson

The season also sees the first performances in the North of a powerful new opera by composer Iain Bell and librettist Emma Jenkins. Their approach to the story of Jack the Ripper presents a significant shift of focus – away from the killer himself and on to the women of Whitechapel he terrorized.

Co-produced and co-commissioned with English National Opera, the piece has been reworked specifically for its Opera North run, where the cast will include Dame Josephine Barstow as Maud, Lesley Garrett as Catherine Eddowes and Elin Pritchard as Mary Kelly.

Ashirah Foster Notice as Magpie and Natalya Romaniw as Mary Kelly in Jack the Ripper at English National Opera (2019) © Alastair Muir

For Winter 2021, Edward Dick directs Opera North’s first new Carmen in a decade, which will also mark Garry Walker’s first production as Opera North’s new Music Director, a role he takes up with the Company from the start of the 2020/21 season. American mezzo Chrystal E. Williams takes the title role alongside Canadian tenor Antoine Bélanger as Don José.

Garry Walker conducting The Greek Passion in rehearsal © Tom Arber

The first ever Opera North production of one of Handel’s most intriguing operas, Alcina, will feature Máire Flavin in the title role and Patrick Terry as Ruggiero. Directed by Tim Albery and conducted by Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings, it will also be the Company’s first large-scale production using only recycled, re-used and second-hand materials within its set, props and costumes. Our aim is to follow this in the 2021/22 season with a complete season of three sustainable productions.

Aletta Collins’ production of Puccini’s magnificent gold-rush opera, The Girl of the Golden West, returns with a cast including Magdalena Molendowska and Rafael Rojas conducted by Principal Guest Conductor, Antony Hermus.

Rafael Rojas as Dick Johnson [kneeling] and Robert Hayward as Jack Rance [far right] in The Girl of the Golden West 2014 © Clive Barda

Crowning the year will be Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal, which will tour to the great concert halls of the North next spring in what will surely be one of the must-see events of 2021. The Company’s former Music Director, Richard Farnes, returns to conduct a superb cast including Toby Spence, who sings his first Parsifal. PJ Harris will direct this new concert staging, which continues Opera North’s acclaimed strand of large-scale operatic works presented dramatically in concert halls.

Touring full-scale productions of great operas is at the heart of what we do, because we believe passionately in opera’s power to touch the soul and inspire creativity in individuals and communities. Alongside our mainstage work and a full symphonic concert season, Opera North offers the most diverse range of performance, events, learning and participation activity of any opera company in the country.  Last year we performed in 75 different venues of all shapes and sizes, from theatres and concert halls to community centres and village halls.

Themba Mvula (Count) and Elizabeth Karani (Countess) in Whistle Stop Opera: The Marriage of Figaro at The Holbeck Social Club © Tom Arber

We believe that access to live opera, music and the arts should be available to everyone, wherever they live and whatever their background. Our Try It ON scheme offers great seats at a reduced ticket price for £20 for anyone new to opera; those aged 19-29 and full-time students can book tickets for just £10 through our Under 30s membership scheme. We also offer a range of accessible performances including audio described, captioned, and signed performances, as well as a dedicated Dementia Friendly matinee of Carmen.

Booking information

We offer a range of priority booking options and membership schemes, including Season Tickets, a fantastic way to save money and experience an extraordinary year of opera:

Full Season Packages are available from Thursday 12 March
Create Your Own Package from Thursday 19 March
Priority booking for Bronze Patrons opens on Thursday 2 April
Priority booking for Friends of Opera North opens on Friday 3 April
Priority booking for Under 30s members opens on Monday 6 April

Tickets for the 20/21 season go on general sale on Friday 13 March (Newcastle, Salford Quays, Nottingham) and Tuesday 7 April 2020 (Leeds). 

See our Season Tickets page for more information about priority booking at tour venues.

For further information please contact our Box Office team on 0113 223 3600 or email


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