From Cole Porter to Wagner, the new Opera North season, which launches in September, promises music lovers a varied feast of opera and musicals, both old and new.
It is, says the company’s general director Richard Mantle: “evidence of Opera North’s continuing ambition to offer the broadest possible range of artistic experiences to audiences of all tastes.”
While classical opera buffs will be delighted to find Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in the programme, there’s also a venture into American musical comedy with Kiss Me Kate; the world premiere of a new chamber opera, Pleasure, featuring soprano Lesley Garrett; and a production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods.
And, arguably saving the best until last, the season ends with a performances of all four operas in Wagner’s rousing Ring Cycle.
But it is Kiss me Kate that opens the season, in a new co-production with Welsh National Opera and conducted by David Charles Abell. The show, premiered in New York in 1948, is set both on and off-stage during a production of a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. The plot has a typically Shakespearean and operatic tangle of love lives, deception and fake identities and is studded with songs that have found their way into musical legend - from So in Love and Wunderbar to Always True to You in My Fashion and Too Darn Hot. It opens at Leeds Grand on September 21.
Next up is The Barber of Seville, first performed in 1816 and revived for Opera North in a period production by Giles Havergal. Based on the first of three plays that revolve around the character Figaro - the same as featured in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, which was composed 30 years earlier - it is one of the world’s most popular operas.
The autumn continues with Jenufa by Janacek, an intense and emotional opera penned over a 10 year period while the composer witnessed his own daughter’s painful illness and early death.
After Christmas the Grand opens to a new production of Andrea Chenier by Umberto Giordano. Based loosely on the life of a French poet and set at the time of the Revolution and the ensuing Terror it is a tale of tragic love that endures even in the face of death; and Mozart’s 1790 masterpiece Cosi fan Tutte or The School for Lovers.
L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti, known as the ‘male Cinderella tale’, can be seen throughout February. It is followed by Pleasure at the Howard Assembly Rooms for two nights in April. This contemporary opera, commissioned by Aldeburgh Music, The Royal Opera and Opera North, has been composed by Mark Simpson with a libretto by Melanie Challenger. It is set in a gay Northern nightclub and will star Lesley Garrett in the leading role of Val, an attendant in the toilets of the club.
With Into the Woods, Opera North has collaborated with the West Yorkshire Playhouse to produce the celebrated musical that features characters from well-known fairy stories but is most definitely for adults.
And then, starting in April 2016, The Ring Cycle begins at Leeds Town Hall, with performances ending in late May before Opera North departs on tour.
The Orchestra of Opera North has also launched its concert programme for 2015/16 and will be part of the Kirklees Concert Season starting in September.
For details of all productions visit www.operanorth.co.uk
(Opera North is offering 50% off the top three ticket prices for Kiss Me Kate’s preview nights on September 21 and 23. The ‘Early Bird’ offer ends on September 1).