Opera North announces five new productions for its 2021/22 season, together with an eclectic programme of live music in the Howard Assembly Room as it prepares to reopen the venue this Autumn. Tickets will go on sale soon, and booking dates can be found below.

Page updated 14 June 2021

Performance Diary

Booking dates in Leeds

Full Season Package renewals
29 June

All packages (Patrons & Friends)
1 July

All package bookers
8 July

Single ticket priority booking (Patrons, Friends, Groups & U30 members)
13 July

Single tickets public booking
15 July

Booking dates on tour

The Lowry and Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham
Package booking from 29 June
Patrons and Friends priority from 13 July
Public booking from 15 July

Hull New Theatre and Bridgewater Hall
Patrons and Friends priority from 13 July
Public booking from 15 July

Newcastle Theatre Royal
Tickets on sale now

From 15 July, we’ll offer 100 tickets per performance at Leeds Grand Theatre either free or at great prices for young and new independent opera goers as part of our Try it ON and Under 30s membership schemes. If you’re eligible, sign up to our membership schemes now so you’re ready to book in July.

This will be the Company’s first full season and tour in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets will be on sale shortly, with audience capacities following the most up-to-date government guidelines. Opera North will continue to work closely with partner venues which include The Lowry at Salford Quays, Newcastle Theatre Royal, Nottingham Theatre Royal and Hull New Theatre, to ensure that the safety and comfort of all audience members, staff and performers remains the highest priority.

The coming months will also see the Company’s £18m redevelopment of its city centre home, the Howard Opera Centre, enter its final stages. A new Making Music campaign has been launched to drive donations to complete the project and fill the new spaces with music. The names of Making Music supporters will become part of a new installation symbolising a musical score. Wrapping around the central staircase in the new glass atrium, the installation will celebrate the making of music in the heart of the building.

Carmen (Bizet)

Opens Sat 2 October 2021 at Leeds Grand Theatre
Sung in French with English titles

The season launches with the Company’s first new Carmen in over a decade, conducted by Garry Walker in his first production as Opera North’s new Music Director. The production will open the Autumn season at Leeds Grand Theatre and will also be performed as part of the Winter season.

Cast includes: Chrystal E. Williams – Carmen; Antoine Bélanger – Don José; Camila Titinger (Autumn)/ Alison Langer (Winter) – Micaela; Phillip Rhodes (Autumn)/ Gyula Nagy (Winter) – Escamillo

Creative team includes: Garry Walker (Autumn)/ Antony Hermus (Winter) – Conductor; Edward Dick – Director; Colin Richmond – Set Designer; Laura Hopkins – Costume Designer; Rick Fisher – Lighting Designer

Chrystal E. Williams as Carmen © Tristram Kenton

Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein)

Opens Sat 16 October 2021 at Leeds Grand Theatre in a double bill with West Side Story Symphonic Dances
Sung in English with English titles

Sam and Dinah appear to have the perfect life, but looks can be deceptive. A highlight of Opera North’s Little Greats season of short operas in 2017, this production of Trouble in Tahiti brings out both the dramatic pathos and musical pizzazz of Bernstein’s work.

Cast includes: Quirijn de Lang – Sam; Sandra Piques Eddy – Dinah; Laura Kelly-McInroy, Joseph Shovelton and Nicholas Butterfield – Trio

Creative team includes: Antony Hermus – Conductor; Matthew Eberhardt – Director; Charles Edwards – Set Designer; Hannah Clark – Costume Designer

Quirijn de Lang as Sam and Sandra Piques Eddy as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti © Richard H Smith

West Side Story Symphonic Dances (Bernstein)

Opens Sat 16 October 2021 at Leeds Grand Theatre in a double bill with Trouble in Tahiti

Bernstein himself arranged West Side Story Symphonic Dances as an opportunity for the score to be interpreted outside of the narrative of his most famous musical. This new show is a co-production with fellow Leeds-based arts organisation Phoenix Dance Theatre with choreography by their recently appointed Artistic Director.

Creative team includes: Antony Hermus – Conductor; Dane Hurst – Choreographer

Megan Lumsden with Shawn Willis, Melina Sofocleous with Aaron Chaplin, and Alana Cowie with Charlie Nayler in West Side Story Symphonic Dances © Richard H Smith

Rigoletto (Verdi)

Opens Sat 22 January 2022 at Leeds Grand Theatre
Sung in Italian with English titles

This new production of Rigoletto will join Carmen for Winter 2022. Conducted by Garry Walker, it will be directed by one of the UK’s leading theatre artists, British Nigerian actor/director Femi Elufowoju Jr. in his operatic debut.

Cast includes: Roman Arndt – the Duke of Mantua; Eric Greene – Rigoletto; Jasmine Habersham – Gilda; Callum Thorpe – Sparafucile; Alyona Abramova – Maddalena; Sir Willard White – Count Monterone; Themba Mvula – Marullo; Ivan Sharpe – Matteo Borsa

Creative team includes: Garry Walker – Conductor: Femi Elufowoju Jr. – Director; Rae Smith – Set and Costume Designer; Bruno Poet – Lighting Designer; Laila Diallo – Movement

Eric Greene as Rigoletto and Jasmine Habersham as Gilda in rehearsal © Tom Arber

Alcina (Handel)

Opens Sat 5 February 2022 at Leeds Grand Theatre
Sung in Italian with English titles

This new production of Alcina, Handel’s popular tale of deception and disguise, love and loss, is Opera North’s first. It will also be the Company’s first mainstage production to be created from recycled, re-used and second-hand sources, as part of our commitment to environmental responsibility.

Cast includes Máire Flavin – Alcina; Patrick Terry – Ruggiero; Joanna Motulewicz – Bradamante; Fflur Wyn – Morgana; Claire Pascoe – Melissa

Creative team includes: Laurence Cummings – Conductor; Tim Albery – Director; Hannah Clark – Set and Costume Designer; Thomas C. Hase – Lighting Designer; Ian Galloway – Video Designer

Máire Flavin as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro 2020 © Robert Workman

Parsifal (Wagner)

Opens Wed 1 June 2022 at Leeds Grand Theatre
Concert staging sung in German with English titles

The year is completed by a rescheduled tour of Wagner’s Parsifal, which will open at Leeds Grand Theatre before touring across the country, continuing Opera North’s acclaimed strand of large-scale works presented dramatically in concert halls.

Cast includes: Toby Spence – Parsifal; Katarina Karnéus – Kundry; Brindley Sherratt – Gurnemanz; Robert Hayward – Amfortas; Eric Greene – Klingsor

Creative team includes: Richard Farnes – Conductor; PJ Harris – Director

Toby Spence as Florestan in Opera North’s Autumn 2020 production of Beethoven’s Fidelio © Richard H Smith

Increasing Accessibility

This will be our most accessible season yet, with the number of audio-described productions being doubled to four. In a first for a UK opera company, pre-recorded audio description will be broadcast to mobile devices during all performances on the Parsifal tour, ensuring everyone can enjoy an opera sung in another language if they are no longer able to read the surtitles.

Selected performances of Carmen in the Winter season will be offered with BSL interpretation, and following on from the first ever dementia-friendly full-length opera in the country in October 2019, we have programmed a second, this time a matinee of Carmen in October.

All performances throughout the year will be surtitled and will be accompanied by online audio notes, including details of how the staging and costumes look for people who are blind or partially-sighted.

Opera North's dementia friendly performance of La bohème 2019 © Ant Robling

Howard Assembly Room

Reopening October 2021

Closed since redevelopment work began on Opera North’s home in March 2019, the Howard Assembly Room will reopen in October 2021, showcasing top international touring artists from a diverse range of genres including jazz, folk and world music, classical recitals, chamber opera, films, talks, installations and family events.

Artists already confirmed for the reopening season include the legendary maestro Courtney Pine with MOBO Award-winning pianist Zoe Rahman, Cuban pianist Omar Sosa with Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita, Leveret (Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron) and Richard Dawson who returns with his wildly original guitar style and gift for contemporary storytelling. A new commission for Opera North Projects’ FILMusic strand sees Leeds pianist Matthew Bourne performing a new live soundtrack to F. W. Murnau’s 1927 masterpiece Sunrise.

Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita © Alicia Carrera

Digital Projects

An increased focus on digital projects additionally sees Opera North preparing the Howard Assembly Room to be a digital concert hall, with increased capabilities for capture, streaming and digital broadcast from and within the venue once it reopens.

A new project in partnership with Sky Studios, Resonance: Connect, is part of the Company’s strand of residencies with artists from minority ethnic backgrounds. The Sky Studios partnership will create new opportunities for musicians to collaborate with filmmakers, technologists and digital artists on a series of short films.

Further digital plans include a broadcast of the new production of Alcina in partnership with the European online opera channel, OperaVision.

Opera North remains committed to sharing performances digitally © Justin Slee

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North:

“The coming year will be a hugely significant moment for Opera North: a new beginning for the Company as we return to live performance in theatres and concert halls across the North and open our transformed estate following its £18 million redevelopment. A world-class centre for music and the arts, our new spaces in the Howard Opera Centre will for the first time bring young people, community partners, and adults participating in our creative education programmes into the heart of the Company. The newly built music rehearsal studio for the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North also gives our permanent ensembles a dedicated rehearsal space for the first time, while enabling the re-opened Howard Assembly Room, previously used for much of the year for rehearsals, to expand its programme of events, with a new entrance, public atrium, bar and restaurant revitalising an under-used part of New Briggate in central Leeds.

“The operational impact of COVID-19 on Opera North and all of our partner companies, venues and freelance artists will still continue to be felt, and we will be working very closely with our partner venues to ensure that the safety of audiences, staff and artists is our highest priority as we go into the upcoming season.

“One of our new productions delayed by the pandemic, Carmen, will be our first event back in residence at Leeds Grand Theatre since early 2020, and we are delighted that this opening production will be conducted by Garry Walker in his belated debut as our new Music Director.”

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