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Opera North and Phoenix Dance in new spectacular for Leeds 23

Phoenix Dance Theatre dancers in rehearsal for Requiem with Teige Bisnought elevated. Photo credit Point of View Photography
Phoenix Dance Theatre dancers in rehearsal for Requiem, with Teige Bisnought elevated. Picture: Point of View Photography

Opera North and Phoenix Dance Theatre – Leeds-based companies both – are collaborating again in a special staged production of Mozart’s Requiem, opening on May 26, with further performances on May 30 and June 1,3 and 4, at Leeds Grand Theatre.

Previous joint productions have been The Rite of Spring (2019) and West Side Story Symphonic Dances (2021), and this time the teamwork also includes Jazzart Dance Theatre and South Africa's Cape Town Opera.

Choreographer is former artistic director of Phoenix and now artistic director of Jazzart, Dane Hurst, and the Requiem interpretation will be the first half of a double bill completed by After Tears: After a Requiem, a new composition by Neo Muyanga for choir and chamber orchestra, conceived as a response to the Mozart work.

This new exercise in 21st-century Gesamtkunstwerk (Wagner’s word for bringing all the arts together in the theatre) is part of Leeds 2023 Year of Culture. The creative team includes Opera North music director Garry Walker and co-designers Joanna Parker and Peter Mumford (designers and creators of Opera North’s projection-backdropped productions of Aida in 2019 and the Ring cycle in earlier years), and the performers will be dancers from both Phoenix and Jazzart, as well as the orchestra and chorus of Opera North, and four guest soloists.

The production – offered as Requiem: Journeys of the Soul – was originally conceived during the Covid pandemic and designed to honour those who were lost and examine what life means for those left behind, in a reflective and hopeful expression of the beauty, brutality and brevity of life. After Tears: After a Requiem invokes South African cultural traditions on the themes of collective loss, the rituals of mourning and remembrance, and celebration of life.

Dane Hurst says: “It will be a deeply moving event that honours and elevates the immense beauty, strength and fragility of life, after a prolonged period of loss and darkness experienced by all since the start of the pandemic in 2020.”

::Opera North’s Spring season also features Bizet’s opera The Pearl Fishers, which will run as a semi-staged production at Leeds Grand from May 16-June 2 before touring in a concert version to venues including The Lowry in Salford

More info here


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