Opera North announces season of magic and mystery for 2024-2025

Opera North announces its new season for 2024-2025, featuring a raft of shows full of magic, mystery and magnificent music.

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The Leeds-based opera company is also finding more ways than ever to make the extraordinary experiences of great opera and music accessible for everyone, including 6pm start times for some performances, more matinee performances, English subtitles at all performances, and sign-interpretation, audio description and touch tours on selected dates.

New to opera ticket schemes are available at all tour venues, encouraging newcomers to experience opera for the first time, including the Try it ON scheme offering £20 tickets for first-timers, £10 tickets for Under 30s and students, and free tickets for 16- to 20-year-olds.

The season includes Mozart’s ever popular The Magic Flute, which will tour across the North from September to March. James Brining, Artistic Director and CEO of Leeds Playhouse, returns to direct this perfect opera for newer audiences of all ages, following on from his new production of Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical My Fair Lady, a collaboration between Opera North and Leeds Playhouse in May-June 2024.

A 90-minute version of The Magic Flute, The Magic Flute Lite will also tour in February and March 2025, offering the same production quality in a compact format, especially suitable for families, schools and anyone who may enjoy a shorter performance experience in the daytime.

Further productions in the year include revivals of Benjamin Britten’s beguiling take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Martin Duncan, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s hilariously inventive Gothic parody, Ruddigore, in a production by Jo Davies which was hailed as an instant classic in its first run. There will be an additional Relaxed and Dementia-friendly performance of Ruddigore in Leeds at 2pm on Wednesday 30 October, offering a comfortable and supportive environment where the audience is more able to move around during the performance if needed, with more lighting in the auditorium.

January 2025 sees Opera North taking on Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’s 1948 musical Love Life. An influential hit on Broadway when it first opened, it paved the way for many innovations in American musical theatre. Leading Weill expert and previous Opera North Head of Music James Holmes will conduct Weill’s score for a limited run of three unique performances in Leeds, directed by Matthew Eberhardt (Street Scene). Opera North is working with the Kurt Weill Foundation towards creating a full recording at these performances of a work which has never received a definitive cast recording.

A new production of Richard Wagner’s tempestuous music drama The Flying Dutchman will be directed by Annabel Arden and conducted by Garry Walker and will tour to theatres across the North in February and March 2025.

The season concludes with the next of Opera North’s highly regarded dramatic concert stagings, which has seen the company presenting some of the largest scale operas in concert halls across the country, placing the orchestra and chorus centre-stage. Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, with its music of dark-hued grandeur and excitement, promises to be an unmissable event. Performances begin at St George’s Hall, Bradford, during the city’s UK City of Culture 2025 celebrations, and then visit concert halls in Liverpool, Gateshead, Nottingham and Hull before a final performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Learning and Engagement: The accessibility of Opera North’s programme is compounded by a wide range of Learning and Engagement work, from schools’ workshops supporting The Magic Flute Lite, the continued growth of the In Harmony music education programme reaching more than 2500 children in schools each week, and a wealth of regular music-making opportunities developing the skills and talents of young people through the Young Musicians Studio, Youth Company and Youth Orchestra.

A new show for all the family, The Big Opera Adventure, sees the orchestra and singers from Opera North embarking on a thrilling quest through some of opera’s most colourful characters and memorable tunes, with performances in Huddersfield, Leeds and Salford in the Autumn.

For adults, the award-winning online singing workshop From Couch to Chorus returns in December 2024, and there will be a new opportunity to sing on the Leeds Grand Theatre stage with the Orchestra of Opera North in Sing ON: Take to the Stage.

Orchestral Concert Season: Away from the theatre, the Orchestra of Opera North continues its dual role as the leading symphony orchestra in the Yorkshire region, with a full concert series in Kirklees and regular appearances at festivals and special events. Highlights of the 2024-2025 orchestral season include: Music Director Garry Walker conducting music by Wagner and Strauss, as well as a film programme featuring the works of John Williams; soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn (Ariadne auf Naxos) singing the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde; and internationally acclaimed guest conductors Valentina Peleggi, Alexander Joel, Antony Hermus and Emilia Hoving.

Howard Assembly Room and Opera North Projects: Opera North Projects produces and curates a year-round festival of music, film, performance and spoken word. From our home in Leeds, the Howard Assembly Room (HAR), to festivals, outdoor spaces and online, we break down barriers and challenge artists to push their creativity.

This year sees a partnership with Britten Pears Arts and Spitalfields Music Festival to co-commission Yorkshire composer Emily Levy‘s new music theatre work, Me Without You. Directed by Mella Faye, the piece explores love, grief and human emotion and combines music, song, dance and digital media.

Other upcoming highlights in the HAR include: a rare concert by Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab;  the legendary Courtney Pine appearing as part of Leeds Jazz Festival; celebratory concerts and events for Refugee Week in June as part of Opera North’s commitment to being a Theatre of Sanctuary; chamber ensembles from within the Orchestra of Opera North giving a close-up experience of world-class music in this intimate venue; and a twice-yearly strand of Wellbeing Weekends offering a range of Relaxed performances across different genres, from concerts to family shows.

Laura Canning, General Director, Opera North, comments:This is a year of magical quests and sorcery, where dreams, curses, and supernatural forces come together to power some of the most overtly theatrical of all operas. In the Autumn, three beloved Opera North productions return to the stage to enchant audiences all over again, and in the new year we will present a new production of The Flying Dutchman

‘In early 2025, we will partner with the Kurt Weill Foundation, aiming to create the first full recording of Love Life from performances in Leeds which are sure to be unmissable. In April and May 2025, I’m truly delighted that we’re able to build on the success of our concert staging series celebrating Opera North’s famous chorus and orchestra, with one of my all-time favourite operas, Simon Boccanegra.

‘This year will be a terrific journey through music, and we are delighted to have found more ways than ever to make great opera accessible for everyone, from earlier start times and more matinees, to special ticket deals for newcomers and new initiatives for families. We want everyone to join us as we tour our work across the North of England and beyond, and to discover the extraordinary experiences that live opera and music offer to audiences.’

Ticket packages for Opera North’s 2024-2025 season are on sale from 26 March, with public on sale from 29 May.

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