NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans

POSTPONEMENT OF OPERA NORTH’S AUTUMN / WINTER SEASONS

As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the latest guidance on live performances, Opera North has today announced the postponement of all mainstage productions due to tour in Autumn 2020 and Winter 2021.

All productions previously planned for Autumn 2020 (La traviata, Jack the Ripper, and Trouble in Tahiti / West Side Story Symphonic Dances, in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre) and Winter 2021 (Carmen, Alcina, and The Girl of the Golden West) are postponed and will be rescheduled over the next two years. Ticket holders will be contacted directly by Opera North for all bookings at Leeds Grand Theatre, and by tour venues for all bookings at The Lowry in Salford Quays, Theatre Royal Newcastle and Theatre Royal Nottingham, to arrange refunds.

A new season of artistic activity for the Autumn 2020 season is being curated and devised, including a range of live musical and operatic performances, respecting government guidelines, together with innovative digital events for audiences in Leeds and across the North.  Details will be announced over the summer.

The first of these new events to be announced is an interactive outdoor soundwalk for Opera North’s home city of Leeds. A new score will be commissioned for a journey through the city, which will be recorded with the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North. This follows the success of previous soundwalks The Height of the Reeds, created for the Humber Bridge as part of Hull 2017 City of Culture, and Aeons, commissioned for The Great Exhibition of the North, 2018 and for which Martin Green received an Ivor Novello Award.

Audiences for the soundwalk will be given a set of headphones connected to a wireless receiver, triggering new musical chapters at different points on the walk through Leeds, experiencing the cityscape through a new and transformative journey.

The Company intends to mount a mainstage season in January 2021 together with a northern tour and is planning alternative repertoire in order to ensure a financially viable and agile Winter season, tailored to be responsive to the ongoing need for social distancing for audiences, performers and backstage staff. A further announcement regarding the Winter season is expected in September.

Opera North’s new concert staging of Parsifal, scheduled to be performed at concert halls across the country in Spring 2021, remains on sale.

A statement from Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North:

‘We have continued to monitor the UK Government’s advice on social gatherings and the guidelines applicable to performing companies, theatres and public venues. It is now evident that it is no longer possible for Opera North to produce, rehearse and tour these large-scale productions as originally planned.

‘We have been in close discussion with Leeds Grand Theatre and our partner touring venues, and it is increasingly unlikely that any of these theatres can remain open to enable large-scale productions to happen. While we are very disappointed to have to postpone these productions, the continued safety and wellbeing of our audience, performers and staff is our highest priority. We continue to work closely with our venues and colleagues within the theatre and music industry to see how we can rehearse and perform with safety, so that we can return to live performance of great opera and music as soon as possible.

‘Rehearsals for our Autumn season were due to begin later this month, with technical deadlines for designing and building sets, costumes and other production elements for the Winter season also fast approaching. We do not believe it is prudent under current economic circumstances to continue production work on these titles 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.

‘We remain committed to making live music and creating extraordinary experiences, every day, for and with the communities we serve. Live or digitally, in classrooms, theatres, concert halls, homes and public spaces; we will continue to share music with people of all ages and backgrounds. As part of this commitment, we are pleased today to announce a new soundwalk for Leeds, as one initial part of our new plan for this Autumn.’

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Opera North has continued to share performances digitally, with a range of filmed productions including the complete Ring cycle and The Turn of the Screw available to watch online via operanorth.co.uk. Over the three months since lockdown began 0n 23 March, more than 130,000 people watched Opera North filmed performances online, Opera North’s YouTube channel received 1.1 million views, and more than 413,000 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.

Five artists have also been commissioned by Opera North to compose and record new pieces of music under lockdown for BBC Arts and Arts Council England’s Culture in Quarantine season. Entitled Walking Home: Sound Journeys for Lockdown, and specifically designed to be listened to while walking, the finished pieces are a vibrant cross-section of music-making in Britain today and will be available to download in Summer 2020. Crossing folk, jazz, Middle Eastern and African traditions, classical and contemporary music, the contributors are cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe; qanun virtuoso Maya Youssef; oud player and composer Khyam Allami, vocalist, violinist and songwriter Alice Zawadzki; and accordionist and experimentalist Martin Green of the folk trio Lau.

The Company’s wide-ranging Education and Community Partnerships work also continues, with digital activities taking place during lockdown via live streaming and video conferencing platforms. A recently announced open access virtual choir for Summer 2020, From Couch to Chorus, begins on 20 July, with participants joining weekly Zoom sessions to learn to sing opera choruses in four parts, taught by Opera North Education artists with learning resources featuring the Chorus of Opera North.

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