Opera North has postponed all the main stage productions in its autumn and winter seasons.
Shows intended for autumn 2020 (La Traviata, Jack the Ripper and a Trouble in Tahiti/West Side Story Symphonic Dances double bill featuring Phoenix Dance Theatre, and winter season performances of Carmen, Alcina and The Girl of the Golden West will return to the schedule over the next two years.
Anyone who has bought tickets will be contacted by Opera North or tour venues to arrange refunds.
Instead, a new season of artistic activity for autumn is being devised, including a range of live musical and operatic performances and innovative digital events in Leeds and across the North, details of which will be announced in the next few weeks.
An interactive “soundwalk” in Leeds has also been commissioned, with a score to be recorded with the Opera North orchestra and chorus. The company has previously presented two successful soundwalks, The Height of the Reeds for the Hull 2017 City of Culture year, and Aeons, for the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.
Soundwalk audiences are given headphones connected to a wireless receiver and new musical chapters is triggered at different points of a walk through Leeds.
The company intends to mount a full season and northern tour next January, and is planning alternative repertoire to ensure it will be financially viable. The season will be announed in September.
Opera North’s new concert staging of Wagner’s Parsifal, scheduled for concert halls across the country in the spring, remains on sale.
The company’s general director, Richard Mantle, said: “We have continued to monitor the UK Government’s advice and it is evident that it is no longer possible for Opera North to produce, rehearse and tour these large-scale productions as originally planned.
“Rehearsals for our Autumn season were due to begin later this month, and technical deadlines for designing and building sets, costumes and other production elements for the winter season are also fast approaching. We do not believe it is prudent to continue production for this year, given the unavoidable reduction in box office revenue, the uncertainty around theatres reopening, and the scale and cost of a production such as Carmen, which involves more than 100 performers, as well as creative and technical staff.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Opera North has shared performances online, with a range of filmed productions including the complete Ring cycle and The Turn of the Screw available to watch online here.
Over the past three months more than 130,000 people have watched online performances. Opera North’s YouTube channel has had 1.1 million views, and more than 413,000 people have engaged with new digital content including 2020: An Isolation Odyssey, the opening section of Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, performed remotely by the Orchestra of Opera North from their homes and gardens.