New events have today been added to Switch ON: Opera North’s programme of indoor performance, outdoor events and digital projects taking place this Autumn and reaffirming the company’s determination to make music with and for audiences across the North.

Joining the previously announced As You Are soundwalk for Leeds and La petite bohème animation will be:

Acis and Galatea (Handel) – at Leeds Playhouse, directed by Anna Pool and conducted by Anthony Kraus;
Seven Deadly Sins (Brecht/ Weill) – at Leeds Playhouse, directed and choreographed by Gary Clarke with James Holmes conducting;
Fidelio (Beethoven) – a touring concert opening at Leeds Town Hall and conducted by Mark Wigglesworth;
Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella – an indoor tour to smaller scale venues;
Orchestra of Opera North/ Chloe Hanslip – a concert featuring Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 3 October – on sale now

More than 14,000 tickets will be available for events in the Switch ON season, at over 40 different venues, with 79% of tickets either free, pay-as-you-feel, or priced at under £15.

A live streamed concert from Leeds Town Hall, Switch ON: Live from Leeds, celebrating the start of this season and previewing upcoming highlights, will be available to watch live on Opera North’s YouTube channel at 7pm tonight, Wednesday 30 September.

Seven Deadly Sins (Brecht/ Weill)

Opens 11 November 2020 at Leeds Playhouse

One of the UK’s most exciting choreographers and contemporary dance artists, Gary Clarke (Street Scene, 2020) returns to direct and choreograph Brecht and Weill’s acerbic ‘sung ballet’, Seven Deadly Sins.

James Holmes conducts a cast including Canadian mezzo Wallis Giunta (Dinah, Trouble in Tahiti, 2017) as Anna, and dancer Shelley Eva Haden, a graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance who recently co-choreographed and performed in Swan Lake Bath Ballet, filmed in lockdown for BBC Arts ‘Culture in Quarantine’, as her alter ego.

Wallis Giunta as Dinah 2017 © Alastair Muir

Acis and Galatea (Handel)

Opens 11 November 2020 at Leeds Playhouse

Directed by rising young British theatre director Anna Pool and conducted by Anthony Kraus, Handel’s pastoral opera will feature a cast including Nicholas Watts (Peter Quint, The Turn of the Screw, 2020) as Acis, Amy Freston (Valencienne, The Merry Widow, 2018) as Galatea, Warren Gillespie as Damon and Matthew Stiff as Polyphemus.

Young Leeds-based designer George Johnson-Leigh (Associate Designer, The Little Greats, 2017) will design both productions in the double-bill reusing elements from existing Opera North productions.

Amy Freston as Valencienne and Nicholas Watts as Camille © Robert Workman

Fidelio (Beethoven)

Concert Tour – dates and locations to be announced 

Before the end of the year and depending on the ongoing situation with Covid-19, we hope to mount a concert tour of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, opening at Leeds Town Hall with four performances in our home city before touring to other venues in the North.

Conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and promising to be one of this year’s musical highlights, Fidelio will be performed by large scale forces of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North and an outstanding British cast including Rachel Nicholls as Leonore and Toby Spence as Florestan, both making their Opera North debuts. Returning to the Company are Fflur Wyn as Marzelline, Oliver Johnston as Jaquino, Robert Hayward as Don Pizarro, and Brindley Sherratt as Rocco.

Fflur Wyn as Marzelline in Opera North's 2011 production of Fidelio © Clive Barda

Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella

November 2020 – January 2021

Touring to smaller scale venues in villages, towns and cities across the North, a newly devised Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella offers a relaxed and fun introduction to opera through the music of different composers’ takes on the same fairy tale.

Devised and directed by John Savournin for three singers and accordion, these versatile and hugely enjoyable pop-up style performances will bring live performance back indoors in community settings across the region, including the City Varieties and Slung Low at The Holbeck in Leeds; The Lowry, Salford Quays; Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven; Otley Courthouse and the National Centre for Early Music in York, with more to be announced.

Whistle Stop Opera returns this Autumn

Richard Mantle, General Director:

“Opera North is determined to keep performing and sharing incredible music with communities in our home city of Leeds, in villages, towns and cities across the North, and with audiences digitally beyond geographical limits. There is no doubt in my mind that arts venues are exemplary in providing a safe and secure environment in which to enjoy live performance and we can contribute to enlivening and building back city centres. Although all our current planning is against the unpredictable background of Covid-19, meaning that some venues or dates may shift to reflect changing circumstances, our commitment to sharing great opera and music is unwavering.

“Today’s announcement completes the line-up for our Switch ON season this Autumn, designed to reintroduce performances safely and innovatively in a wide range of contexts and venues, from live events in theatres and concert halls, to new recordings to be experienced outdoors through headphones. As the furlough scheme comes to an end, we also hope that members of the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North will be able to give additional small scale performances in as many different venues and spaces as possible, working around the recordings, concerts and operas already announced.

“Beyond Switch ON, we are planning to be back in Leeds Grand Theatre early in the New Year, and hope to announce operatic repertoire for early 2021 very soon. We are working closely with our partners at Leeds Grand Theatre to ensure that we are able to return to the theatre safely and in accordance with social distancing for all audiences, performers, backstage and front of house staff.”

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