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Opera North keeps its work alive online

Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. Pic: Tristram Kenton
Weill's Seven Deadly Sins. Pic: Tristram Kenton

Opera North is to live-stream two major productions denied live stage performance by England’s second Covid-19 lockdown.

The Leeds-based company, which received a grant of £2m in the most recent round of the government’s culture recovery fund, also plans to announce a return to live performance at Leeds Grand Theatre and on tour in early 2021.

Under the current restrictions in England, live performances with audiences are not possible, but rehearsals and filming of performances are permitted behind closed doors.

A performance of Brecht and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins will be streamed live from Leeds

Playhouse at 6pm on November 21 – Opera North’s first fully-staged opera since the start of the pandemic in March.

Tickets for the 40 minute performance are £10 and allow the work to be watched live or on demand within 48 hours.

Weill’s playful “sung ballet” is directed and choreographed by Gary Clarke and features Wallis Giunta (seen in Trouble in Tahiti) and dancer Shelley Eva Haden as the two Annas, with an orchestra of 16 musicians conducted by Weill expert James Holmes.

The work was originally intended to open at Leeds Playhouse on November 11, in a double-bill with Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Performances of the double-bill for audiences in the theatre will be rescheduled to early 2021. All bookers will also receive free access to the livestream.

The second opera viewable online will be a concert performance of Beethoven’s 105min Fidelio streamed live from Leeds Town Hall on December 12 at 7pm, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, and directed by Matthew Eberhardt. 

A cast of internationally-renowned singers including Rachel Nicholls, Toby Spence, Robert

Hayward and Brindley Sherratt, will perform with a 33-piece orchestra and 24-strong chorus for some of Beethoven’s most powerful and poignant music.

Fidelio was due to open at Leeds Town Hall on November 29 for four performances, all of which have now been cancelled. The work is available to watch live or on demand for seven days for £15.

Buy tickets and watch here.

Other events previously announced as part of Opera North’s Switch ON season this autumn have now been postponed or rearranged. A tour of a new Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella planned for November and December is being rescheduled for live performances in early 2021. The company is planning also to film the production to make it available online free during December.

Directed by John Savournin with Marie Claire Breen as Cinderella, Amy J Payne as Prince/Stepmother, and Julia Mariko Smith as Fairy Godmother, the work is a tour of several different versions of the fairy tale, including Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Massenet’s Cendrillon, Pauline Viardot’s operetta Cendrillon and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella.

A headphones-based outdoor “soundwalk” for Leeds, As You Are, composed by Abel Selaocoe and recorded with the company chorus and orchestra, and La Petite Boheme, Matthew Robins’ 20-minute animation of Act III of Puccini’s popular work, will both be rescheduled over the coming weeks.

Opera North has also postponed its planned tour of Wagner’s Parsifal, scheduled for next May and June. The work, which would have required over 130 musicians on stage, will not be possible with social distancing for performers. To replace the dates, the company will present an evening of music from Wagner’s Ring Cycle, conducted by Richard Farnes. Existing ticket holders for Parsifal will be contacted by each venue’s box office.

Opera North’s general director Richard Mantle said: “The return to lockdown is a significant setback, but our determination to make music is undiminished.

“As we head into 2021, it is clear that the landscape in which we operate is still shifting and that planning events with certainty is not yet possible. We will continue to innovate and to work with creativity, generosity and determination to make music for everyone. We are committed to re-scheduling Parsifal for a future year.”


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