‹ Back to What's On Joshua

30 Apr - 4 May 2013

New Production

Given their splendid, highly affective music, riveting drama and continuing appeal and relevance to today’s audiences, it is hardly surprising that Handel’s late oratorios have often been described as his greatest operas. Accordingly, staged productions of Handel’s oratorios have increasingly entered the repertoire of the world’s great opera houses.

With Joshua, Opera North now takes on one of Handel’s greatest works from the height of his late creative period. Conveying the Old Testament story of Moses’ successor as he leads the Israelites in conquest of Canaan, it marries spiritual meditation and the most tender of love stories with the kind of epic plot line most people would associate with the latest Hollywood movie.

Handel deploys all of his vast experience as an opera composer in his highly theatrical and pictorial score. Strongly characterised, Joshua includes a marvellous series of set-piece moments, such as the collapse of the walls of Jericho and the miracle of the sun and moon standing still at the battle of Gibeon. As you would expect from the composer of the Messiah, Joshua also contains some of Handel’s most monumental choral music. The triumphal return of Othniel after his victory at Debir is celebrated in one of Handel’s most famous choruses, ‘See, the conqu’ring hero comes!’ best known in its incarnation as the hymn tune ‘Thine Be the Glory’.  

Joshua was first performed in 1748 at the Covent Garden Theatre in London. Its military themes struck an immediate chord with a public in a triumphalist mood following the defeat of the Jacobite uprising in 1746,  quickly turning the piece into one of the most successful of Handel's later oratorios. Now staged in Leeds Grand Theatre by director/designer Charles Edwards, this new presentation returns the work to its roots in the theatre.  Tackling the militaristic undertones of the original by exploring the costs of war on the individual and society, Edwards converts the work's original message into a passionate plea for peace and understanding.

Lasts approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.
Sung in English.

Financially supported by the Opera North Future Fund

What the critics say

a thought-provoking piece of theatre that deserves to be more widely seen than its short current run allows. [...] Though the staging is simple, it is consistently effective - Edwards lights his minimal sets, which make prominent use of the backstage fabric of the Grand Theatre, with considerable flair.

The Stage - Full Review ›

Conductor Stephen Layton draws a fine range of expressive colour, from the warbling woodwind that accompanies Achsah's mellifluous praise of the linnet and the lark, to some strident trumpeting sufficient to bring down the walls of Jericho.

The Guardian - Full Review ›

Henry Waddington cuts a stalwart figure, dignified or passionate vocally as occasion demands and able to command the stage even in stillness. Fflur Wyn’s sweetly agile soprano as his daughter Achsah and the soaring and intense counter-tenor of the outstanding Jake Arditti as her lover Othniel counter-balance all the martial might.

What's on Stage - Full Review ›

The orchestra, with reduced strings plus chamber organ, harpsichord and continuo cello (Sally Pendlebury), were effervescent in fast music and eloquent in the slow – especially the Act II sun-and-moon miracle, where Handel's music is at its most ethereal

The Observer - Full Review ›

Judging from comments overheard, I don't think anyone had imagined such an exhilarating experience, I certainly hadn't. Opera North have demonstrated that Joshua - one of Handel's greatest oratorios - clearly belongs in the theatre.

Opera Britannia - Full Review ›

  • Joshua Daniel Norman
  • Achsah Fflur Wyn
  • Othniel Jake Arditti
  • Caleb Henry Waddington
Creative Team
  • Conductor Stephen Layton (ex 3 May)
  • Conductor Anthony Kraus (3 May)
  • Director Charles Edwards
  • Set and Lighting Designer Charles Edwards
  • Costume Designer Gabrielle Dalton

Click on the venue below to plan your visit.

Leeds Grand Theatre

Find Us

46 New Briggate
Leeds Grand Theatre

Important Information

Box Office: 0844 848 2720 (calls cost 7ppm)

  • To access the Grand Theatre, there are six steps from the street up to the foyer or a wheelchair lift from the Grand Theatre Box Office to the foyer, and then lift access to the rest of the auditorium (excluding the Upper Balcony). Some areas of the auditorium do have steep stairs and may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. Please check with the Box Office. 
  • There are 6 wheelchair spaces: four in the Stalls and two in the Dress Circle.
  • There are accessible toilets at Stalls and Dress Circle levels. 
  • There is an infra-red system in operation for sound amplification. Headsets are available from the Grand Theatre foyer for a £5 refundable deposit. Please ask Box Office staff when booking for advice on the best seats to use this service. 
  • Support dogs are welcome in the auditorium and can be looked after on request. 
  • For refreshments, there are bars at Stalls, Upper Circle and Balcony levels.  

Choose from these fantastic pre-theatre dining options and make your experience complete!

The Alchemist

Opera North ticket holders can enjoy 20% off their food bill at The Alchemist. Located on the second floor of Trinity Shopping Centre, The Alchemist offers a fantastic menu and stunning views of Leeds City Centre. Not available Saturdays. 

Download Menu | Book online 


Manahatta is a recently opened bar and kitchen located on Merrion Street, just a minute's walk from Leeds Grand Theatre. Serving a fantastic New York inspired menu made with fresh local produce, guests will receive 20% off their food bill before 6.15pm with proof of ticket. Booking is required. 

Download Menu | Book online

North Bar

Opera North and Howard Assembly Room ticket holders can enjoy 10% off all drinks at New Briggate's finest craft beer hotspot — North Bar, just a stone's throw from Leeds Grand Theatre. 

Find out more 


Enjoy 15% off all food and drink at authentic Italian wine bar Veeno (Leeds branch only) on presentation of ticket for an Opera North performance. Excludes Fridays and Saturdays after 5.00pm. 

Download Menu | Book a table 

Veritas Ale & Wine Bar

Enjoy a special pre-opera meal at Veritas Ale & Wine Bar. Just a 5-10 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, choose either two courses for £13.95 (£17.50 with a 175ml house wine) or three courses for £15.95 (£19.50 with a 175ml house wine). Available 5.00-6.30pm. Booking is required.

Download Menu | Book via email or call 0113 242 8094 and quote 'pre-opera menu'

Brasserie Blanc

Sample the fabulous pre-theatre menu at Brasserie Blanc and choose from two courses for £11.95 or three courses for £15.45, with a complimentary glass of fizz for Opera North ticket holders. Located just a 10 minute walk from the Leeds Grand Theatre. Available 12.00-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday. 

Download Menu | Book online or call 0113 220 6060

The Reliance

Just a 5 minute walk from Leeds Grand Theatre, The Reliance bar and dining room offers a fantastic pre-theatre menu. Choose from two courses for £14.45 or three courses for £18.90. Available 5.30-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday.

Download Menu

What you say

Comment from Jane Payne


Jane Payne said ago

Outstanding memorable performance. I could have listened to the counter tenor all evening, such a sensitive controlled voice. The chorus and main singers all put their all into their singing and acting. They were obviously enjoying themselves and it came across. The sets were imaginative, the lighting exciting, set changes with props really worked and didn't spoil the flow. The orchestra was, as usual without fault. Well done Opera North and all involved, a really enjoyable performance from all.

Comment from james hazan


james hazan said ago

Creative team O.K. Singing!!!? leaves much to be desired,spoiled by a dilettante Joshua.the rest need improvement.

Comment from John Mitchell


John Mitchell said ago

Saw Joshua last night - a totally absorbing evening. Out of Faust, Otello, La Voix Humaine, Dido and Aeneas, the best evening I have had at ON this season so far. Charles Edwards staging worked brilliantly, it was dramatically and musically exciting. All the cast and orchestra were excellent and Fflur Wyn and Jake Arditti outstanding.

Comment from Ted


Ted said ago

A brilliant and thought-provoking interpretation. The re-siting of the oratorio in modern Israel worked amazingly well, and every little detail of the production held together to enrich the interpretation. When the conqu'ring hero turned out to be an exhausted and bloodied lad, all sorts of possibilities arose: whose blood was it on his hands? The, was this saviour of the people the suffering servant of Isaiah? Then, when Achsah cradled him in her arms, was this a Pieta? And Joshua presided over all from above, guarded by the angel. And so on ... A really intelligent production. The orchestra was just right; the singing was good; but as for Jake Arditti - what a find! Superb voice - and he didn't mind being half drowned on stage with real water, and could still come out of it singing.

Comment from Brigitte McCartney


Brigitte McCartney said ago

What an outstanding performance!! Luckily a friend had urged me to get a ticket. Superb singing , acting and as a great bonus the effective staging. I can only agree with the comment of 'The Stage' on this page.
Hurry to get a ticket for Saturday's performance.

Comment from merrin


merrin said ago

What a treat and how marvellous to see Handel's oratorio staged. The audience seemed to not know how to react, and they maintained an oratorio-worthy hush until Achsah's mellifluous aria 'the thrush and the linnet', which they could not resist. The tender scenes between Achsah and Othniel counter balance the dark themes of war and and loss. The continuo playing superbly complemented the aria singing - a most impressive achievement when the player and the singers surely cannot see each other. Caleb's powerful yet tender singing conveys both gravity and humanity and Othniel soared above it all in golden voice.
Don't miss this, it might be a once in a lifetime experience.

Comment from Scott Hood


Scott Hood said ago

I have just seen Joshua this evening and it was fantastic. Fflur and Jake in particular sang brilliantly. Very enjoyable evening.

Comment from Anna


Anna said ago

Saw it tonight and really enjoyed it. Othniel and Achsah both sang beautifully.

Comment from Margaret


Margaret said ago

That had me scratching my head too, Stephen..... I saw Judas Maccabaeus at the Proms last year & as far as I was concerned See the Conqu'ring Hero was in that oratorio. However, never having seen Joshua, I'll bow to your superior knowledge. You learn a little something every day......

Comment from Stephen Whitaker


Stephen Whitaker said ago

For all those confused like me....'See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes!' was composed during the summer of 1747 for Joshua. In the wake of its popularity, probably in 1751, Handel added it to Judas Maccabaeus which dates from 1746, and so it forms a legitimate part of both oratorios.

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Offers & Discounts

Tuesday - Friday

  • Retired over 60: £3 off (Excludes £15 tickets)
  • Leeds Card Holders £3 off (Excludes £15 tickets)
  • Under 26 or full time students: £10 best available (Excludes Dress Circle)
All week
  • Family ticket: 50% off for up to four Under 18s with each adult ticket
  • Groups of 10+: 20% off plus free seat for the organiser
  • Income Support, Pension Credit, JSA: £10 best available (excludes Dress Circle)
  • Disabled people: 25% off (essential carer free)
On the Day:
  • £10 tickets (limited availability) 

Restaurant Deals

We’ve teamed up with Piazza by Anthony in Leeds to offer you an exclusive pre-theatre menu. Enjoy 2 Courses for £17.95 or 3 Courses for £21.95. Please use the promotion code ‘OPERANORTH’ when booking your table online or by calling 0113 2470995. This special offer is also available without booking, simply turn up and show your opera tickets to the receptionist.
Only valid on the day of the performance your ticket is for. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Enjoy 20% off your bill at Sandinista (Cross Belgrave Street - New Briggate) on presentation of your Opera North ticket when placing their food order. To book a table call 0113 305 0372. Food is served till 10pm through the week with final orders at 9pm Friday and Saturday. Only valid on the day of the performance their ticket is for. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Just a short walk from the theatre, another fantastic dining option is The Reliance (76-78 North Street).Treat yourself to the pre-theatre menu served between 5:30 and 6:30pm, Mon - Sat. Enjoy 2 courses for £13.95 or 3 courses for £17.90. Call 0113 2956060 to book a table.