LIVESTREAMS ANNOUNCED AS OPERA NORTH RESCHEDULES PRODUCTIONS
The Seven Deadly Sins: livestream of Gary Clarke’s new production on Sat 21 November at Leeds Playhouse
Fidelio: livestream conducted by Mark Wigglesworth on Sat 12 December at Leeds Town Hall
Film of Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella will be released online in December as an alternative to pantomime trips for families and schools
Spring 2021 tour of Parsifal postponed; replaced by highlights of Wagner’s Ring conducted by Richard Farnes using Jonathan Dove’s orchestrations
Opera North today announces dates for livestreams of two major productions which have been disrupted by the second lockdown in England. Despite the latest setback, the Company, which received a grant of £2m in the most recent round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, is determined to keep making and sharing music for and with people across the North of England and beyond. As the route to the easing of lockdown restrictions becomes clearer, Opera North intends 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, with all members of staff, production crew and performers observing Covid-19 secure guidelines.
The Seven Deadly Sins (Kurt Weill) / Livestream: Saturday 21 November at 18:00 / Running time: 40 mins / Available to watch live or on demand for 48 hours for £10 / Buy tickets and watch at operanorth.co.uk (click here)
A performance of Brecht and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins will be streamed live from Leeds Playhouse at 6pm on Saturday 21 November. It will be Opera North’s first fully-staged opera since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
In The Seven Deadly Sins, we meet Anna and Anna: one person, two personalities. Sent away for seven years to make money for their struggling family, they journey between seven cities from Philadelphia to San Francisco, and encounter sloth, pride, wrath, gluttony, lust, greed and envy on the way. Weill’s playful and shimmering ‘sung ballet’ – his final collaboration with Brecht – is directed and choreographed by Gary Clarke (Street Scene) and features Wallis Giunta (Trouble in Tahiti) and dancer Shelley Eva Haden as the two Annas, with an orchestra of 16 musicians conducted by Weill expert James Holmes (Street Scene).
The Seven Deadly Sins was scheduled to open at Leeds Playhouse on Wednesday 11 November, in a double-bill with Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Performances of the double-bill for audiences in the theatre will now be rescheduled to early 2021, and existing bookers will be contacted to transfer their bookings or to arrange refunds. All bookers will also receive free access to the livestream.
Cast and creative team:
Anna I – Wallis Giunta
Anna II – Shelley Eva Haden
Father – Campbell Russell
Brother – Stuart Laing
Brother – Nicholas Butterfield
Mother – Dean Robinson
Conductor – James Holmes
Director – Gary Clarke
Set and Costume Designer – George Johnson-Leigh
Costumes realised by – Stephen Rodwell
Lighting Designer – Mike Lock
Livestream director – Jonathan Haswell
Kurt Weill’s THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS – Ballet with Singing / Text by Bertolt Brecht / Arrangement for 15 Players by HK Gruber and Christian Muthspiel. Performed in the English translation by Michael Feingold.
This streamed performance of Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins presents a preview of a new arrangement of this work by HK Gruber and Christian Muthspiel, ahead of the arrangement’s scheduled UK premiere by the Royal Opera in spring 2021. We are very grateful to the Royal Opera for facilitating these performance. By arrangement with Schott Music Ltd agent for The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music and the heirs of Bertolt Brecht.
Fidelio (Beethoven) / Livestream: Saturday 12 December at 19:00 / Running time: 1 hour and 45 mins / Available to watch live or on demand for seven days for £15 / Buy tickets and watch at operanorth.co.uk (click here)
A dramatic concert performance of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, will be streamed live from Leeds Town Hall at 7pm on Saturday 12 December, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth, and directed by Matthew Eberhardt.
Fidelio is actually Leonore, a noblewoman disguised as a man, in search of her husband, Florestan, who has been unjustly imprisoned by his tyrannical political opponent Don Pizarro. Fidelio secures a job as a prison guard and sets in motion a chain of events in which she must risk everything to save her husband’s life…
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, creating one of the largest on-stage ensembles since the Covid-19 outbreak for some of Beethoven’s most powerful and poignant music, including the moving Prisoners’ Chorus.
Fidelio was due to open at Leeds Town Hall on 29 November for four performances, all of which will now be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, and bookers for the live events refunded.
Cast and creative team:
Leonore – Rachel Nicholls
Florestan – Toby Spence
Rocco – Brindley Sherratt
Marzelline – Fflur Wyn
Jaquino – Oliver Johnston
Don Pizarro – Robert Hayward
Conductor – Mark Wigglesworth
Director – Matthew Eberhardt
Livestream Director – Peter Maniura
Changes to productions and events 2020-21 – Many other events previously announced as part of Opera North’s Switch ON season this autumn have now been postponed or rearranged. Education and community outreach activity remains a crucial part of our work and we continue to work digitally with schools, the young people in our youth ensembles, and adults, delivering virtual workshops and vocal and instrumental teaching. Wednesday 11 November saw the start of From Couch to Chorus: The Festive Edition, a weekly virtual choir delivered via Zoom which has already seen more than 1500 people sign up to learn rousing opera choruses and festive favourites in the run-up to Christmas, with learning resources featuring the Chorus of Opera North.
A tour of a new Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella planned for November and December is being rescheduled for live performances in early 2021; additionally we are planning to film this production and make it available online for free during December, giving schools and families an alternative to a Christmas pantomime trip this year. Directed by John Savournin with Marie Claire Breen as Cinderella, Amy J Payne as Prince/Stepmother, and Julia Mariko Smith as Fairy Godmother, Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella is a magical tour of several different musical takes on the fairy tale, including Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Massenet’s Cendrillon, Pauline Viardot’s operetta Cendrillon and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella.
The headphones-based outdoor soundwalk for Leeds, As You Are, composed by Abel Selaocoe and recorded with the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, and La petite bohème, Matthew Robins’ 20-minute animation of Act III of Puccini’s La bohème, will both be rescheduled as soon as possible in line with changes to Covid-19 restrictions regarding outdoor events over the coming weeks and months.
We are determined to return to live performance and to resume touring opera as soon as we are able, and we are working closely with our partner venues to develop further plans for early 2021. We hope very much to be able to share a tour of opera performances with our audiences across the North of England, but we are mindful of the rapidly changing times in which we live and will wait until further Government guidance allows us to confirm a firmer schedule for this period.
Parsifal – We have made the difficult decision that our planned tour of Wagner’s Parsifal, scheduled for May/June 2021 must now be postponed to a future year. The scale of musical forces needed to perform this work, with over 130 musicians on stage, will not be possible to achieve with social distancing in place for performers. We are firmly committed to performing Parsifal in a future year once this scale of performance becomes feasible. To replace the Parsifal dates in 2021, we will present an evening of music from Wagner’s Ring, conducted by Richard Farnes and using Jonathan Dove’s orchestrations. This specially devised event will look at the parallels to be drawn between Wagner’s mythical realm, in which the gods’ violation of the natural world is an intrinsic aspect of their power, and the destruction of our own environment. As a companion piece to Opera North’s complete 2016 Ring cycle, which is currently available to watch online for free, this new event will include extracts from the Ring featuring singers who were to appear in Parsifal. Existing ticket bookers for Parsifal will be contacted by each venue’s box office with options for a credit, to make a donation or receive a full refund as soon as possible.
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, comments: ‘Throughout 2020, we have stayed true to our purpose of creating extraordinary experiences with music and opera in communities across the North and beyond. The return to lockdown is a significant setback, but our determination to make music is undiminished and we refuse to fall silent. We had planned to return to fully staged productions in November and December in Leeds and on tour, and our productions of The Seven Deadly Sins and Fidelio promise to be extraordinary musical and theatrical experiences. We are determined they will be shared and we are delighted to be able to stream them, sharing the thrill of live musical performance, not least during this lockdown when audiences are once more deprived of live events in person. 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 have made the incredibly difficult decision to postpone our much-anticipated concert staging of Parsifal next spring, at a moment when there can be no guarantee that social distancing restrictions will have been eased sufficiently for us to bring more than 130 performers together on stage. We are committed to re-scheduling Parsifal for a future year, and at the same time we are excited by the possibility of creating a new evening of music drawn from Wagner’s Ring to tour in 2021.‘
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