During the October half term, Opera North will be welcoming the community behind the scenes of its newly redeveloped building, the Howard Opera Centre, inviting everyone to come and find out more about the company and enjoy a programme of performances, talks and workshops.

Running from Monday 25 October, the Open Week will offer performances for all ages in the Howard Assembly Room, focus on accessibility on the main stage, and hold free Open Day: Backstage Pass and Family Festival days when the doors of the Howard Opera Centre will be thrown open so that people can see what the recent £18 million Music Works transformation has achieved and interact with the company in a variety of different ways.

Open Day: Backstage Pass

Wednesday 27 October, Howard Opera Centre

All events are free of charge, but pre-booking is recommended

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A one-off chance for people to experience what really goes on behind the scenes of a busy opera company with building and backstage tours running throughout the day, talks on creating the perfect costumes and what happens behind the scenes of Carmen, the opportunity to see a rehearsal and Masterclass in action, and free performances of Whistle Stop Opera: The Magic Flute and the animation La petite bohème.

Anyone unable to take advantage of a Backstage Pass can still join in the celebrations by joining an hour-long Online Singing Taster in the comfort of their own home.

Go behind the scenes during Open Day: Backstage Pass © Tom Arber

Open Day: Family Festival

Thursday 28 October, Howard Opera Centre

All events are free of charge, but pre-booking is recommended

Book now

Designed for all ages, the Family Festival open day offers a wealth of free activities for younger family members. From The Big Family Sing and interactive storytelling to a chance to get creative with crafts and join a special Little ONes session, the emphasis is firmly on fantasy and magic. There will also be the chance to explore and experience the new Bramall Education Studio and Holbeck Teaching Room developed during the Music Works transformation.

Later in the week on Sunday 31 October, families can enjoy an afternoon showing of Tim Burton’s gothic extravaganza Corpse Bride in the recently reopened Howard Assembly Room, with Hallowe’en themed crafts and colouring in the foyer beforehand.

Open Day: Family Festival will offer something for all ages © Tom Arber

Open Week: Dementia Friendly Carmen

Tuesday 26 October at 1.30pm, Leeds Grand Theatre

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During Open Week, opera lovers living with dementia and their families and carers can enjoy a dementia friendly performance of Carmen in Leeds Grand Theatre.

Building on the success of the company’s dementia friendly La bohème in 2019, this matinee performance offers a full-length opera in an environment that is both comfortable and supportive. Bright lighting and loud noises will be reduced, lights in the theatre will remain on low, there will be a relaxed attitude to people moving around, and plenty of staff will be on hand to help people navigate what may be unfamiliar surroundings.

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

Open Week: Theatre of Sanctuary Open Mic Night

Tuesday 26 October at 8.15pm, Howard Assembly Room

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Open Week is for everyone. On the Tuesday, a pay-as-you-feel Theatre of Sanctuary Open Mic Night will be held in the Howard Assembly Room to give a voice to people from around the world.

Hosted by South African singer songwriter Thandanani Gumede, the evening will mark Opera North’s position as the only opera company in the UK to be a Theatre of Sanctuary by providing a showcase for the musical talents of local refugees and sanctuary seekers as part of the 2021 Platforma Festival.

Other performances in the Howard Assembly Room during the week include Cleveland Watkiss: The Great Jamaican Songbook on Friday and the welcome return of Richard Dawson on Saturday.

Theatre of Sanctuary Get-together at Leeds Playhouse © Anthony Robling

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North:

“We are delighted to open the doors of our transformed home to people from every corner of Leeds and the north, giving them the chance to experience the thrill of live music, to make music with us, and to learn about music. While there are plenty of opportunities to watch our work whether in the Leeds Grand Theatre or the newly reopened Howard Assembly Room, these events are a unique chance for everyone to go behind the scenes and discover the many steps involved in getting something ready to go on stage.

“We hope that inviting people backstage in this way will remove any barriers to engaging with us and encourage everyone to view the Howard Opera Centre as a place where they are welcome and valued whether as a participant or as an observer.”


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