Opera North Projects

The Girl I Left Behind Me (2011 - 2012)

Devised by Jessica Walker and Neil Bartlett

The Girl I Left Behind Me is a supremely well-sung and coolly contemporary look at one of the most intriguing questions of musical theatre – just what is it that makes a woman in trousers so appealing? From the swaggering cross-dressers of the Victorian Music Hall, to the ambiguous boy-heroes of Mozart and Strauss, to the back-room bull-dykes of the Haarlem Renaissance, this is a provocative, flirtatious and deliciously personal one-woman guide to a whole forgotten chapter of female performance. 

The Girl I Left Behind Me sheds new light on the era in which the woman in trousers was king, through a programme of staged songs interspersed with anecdotes both historical and contemporary.

Jessica Walker - Vocals
James Holmes – Piano

The Artists


Jessica Walker has enjoyed a successful career in both opera and cross-over repertoire, in Britain and internationally. Having started out in mainstream opera, Jessica now also devises and writes her own shows. She is also currently undertaking a part time, practice-led PhD at the University of Leeds.

Neil Bartlett is a theatre director and writer. From 1994-2005 he was Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith in London. Since leaving the Lyric his work has included large-scale projects for the RSC (Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet) as well as the award-winning The Pianist with Mikhail Rudy and Peter Guinness and the world premiere of Everybody Loves A Winner, both for the Manchester International Festival. 

The Audience

“The 70-minute show is a celebration, both tongue-in-cheek and heartfelt, of the male impersonators who were colossi of the British and American music-hall stage, elegantly weaving biographical snippets with the performers' signature songs.” Guardian

Performance History

Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds
15th May 2012

Purcell Room at Southbank Centre, London
18th May 2012

Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norwich Playhouse
May 21st 2012

Brighton Theatre Royal
22nd May 2012

The Sage, Gateshead
3rd June 2012

The Lowry, Salford
June 24th 2012

The Pumphouse, Aldeburgh
25th and 26th June 2012

Image Gallery

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Phone: +44 (0)113 243 9999
Address: Opera North Grand Theatre,
46 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU