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Opera North returns to the heart of Leeds in 2018


Opera North and Leeds City Council have announced more details of their return to Millennium Square next summer, with an eclectic mix of operatic and classical greats, orchestral club anthems and a special live screening of the classic British film Brassed Off in all its grit and glory, accompanied by Grimethorpe Colliery Band and the Orchestra of Opera North.

For the second year running the Opera North in the City festival will feature as part of the Millennium Square Summer Series with a long weekend of music in the heart of Leeds.

On Saturday 28 July, the Orchestra of Opera North will perform a sparkling programme of favourite operatic arias and orchestral showpieces in A Classic Summer's Evening. They will be joined by acclaimed Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas, an Opera North favourite who is no stranger to the city centre, having stunned shoppers in Trinity Leeds with a surprise rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma last summer. Rojas’s charisma and rich, burnished voice have thrilled Leeds audiences in Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West and Turandot, and in the heroic title role of Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, and he is due to sing the lead role in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera in our forthcoming Fatal Passions season.

A very special screening of Brassed Off will close Opera North in the City on Sunday 29 July with a heartwarming celebration of Yorkshire pluck. The much-loved 1996 film, starring Ewan McGregor, Tara Fitzgerald, Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson, follows the struggles of a colliery band after the closure of their pit. The story is loosely based on Grimethorpe's own: in 1992, just five days before the Band was due to compete in the national championships at the Royal Albert Hall, Grimethorpe Colliery was earmarked for closure. They battled on to triumph at the contest, and celebrated their centenary in 2017 with a blue plaque unveiled at their rehearsal room for BBC Music Day. Their story came full circle with the first ever performance of Brassed Off Live at the Royal Albert Hall in the summer.

The real-life stars of the film, Grimethorpe Colliery Band recorded the original soundtrack, with new compositions by Trevor Jones alongside brass band staples like the Florentiner March and arrangements of classical gems. The Orchestra of Opera North will begin the afternoon in Millennium Square with a programme of those much-loved tunes in rousing, fully orchestrated form, including Rossini’s William Tell Overture and of course, Rodrigo’s “Concierto d'Orange Juice”. For the first time ever in Yorkshire and by special arrangement with the Royal Albert Hall, Grimethorpe Colliery Band will then take the stage to accompany the film, joined by members of the Orchestra.

Following this summer’s unforgettable collaboration between Dave Beer’s legendary club and Yorkshire’s resident symphony orchestra, The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics will kick off the weekend festival on Friday 27 July, promising more huge dancefloor classics revamped, retooled and performed live by the 50-piece Orchestra of Opera North and special guest vocalists.

To enhance the festival atmosphere, Leeds City Council will be laying on an expanded selection of food and drink for all three dates. Tickets for Opera North in the City 2018 are on sale now, with £30 Early Bird tickets for The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics available until the end of January. Tickets (all seated) for A Classic Summer's Evening and Brassed Off Live are priced from £21 to £27, or half price for ages 16 and under, with VIP tickets at £45.

A Night at the Opera with the Orchestra of Opera North. Credit: Sarah Zagni.

Special thanks to Steve Abbott, Mark Herman, Robert Lipson, Jim Carter.
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