Sian Edwards, one of the country’s most distinguished conductors, makes her Opera North debut with a cast including, as Katya, Stephanie Corley, who last appeared as Lilli Vanessi/Katherine in Kiss Me, Kate (2018), Harold Meers as her lover Boris, Heather Shipp as the formidable mother-in-law Kabanicha, and Andrew Kennedy as the spineless Tichon.
Completing the season is a dance/opera double bill created in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre in the first ever collaboration between the two Leeds-based companies. The newly choreographed version of Stravinsky’s ground-breaking The Rite of Spring will be performed by Phoenix’s ensemble with the full Orchestra of Opera North playing the unmistakable modernist score. The piece shocked audiences when it was first performed in 1913 and is set to do so again as it is reimagined by internationally-acclaimed Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus in his UK debut, with a focus on the crushing power of nature, the relentless growth of capitalism and technology, and the inevitable fate of the sacrificial victim.
Enabling audiences to experience two art-forms in one evening, The Rite of Spring is paired with Puccini’s short – and only – operatic comedy Gianni Schicchi. Scheming relatives gather round the deathbed of a rich man, each laying claim to a chunk of his fortune, before they make the questionable decision to call in local conman Gianni Schicchi for help. Based on an episode in Dante’s Inferno, Puccini’s mini masterpiece is rich with vivid characterisation and colourful music. Richard Burkhard (Tonio, Pagliacci, 2017; Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro, 2015) returns to Opera North to sing the title role with the supporting cast including Tereza Gevorgyan as Lauretta, Diego Silva as Rinuccio and Leah-Marian Jones as Zita. Scottish conductor Garry Walker conducts both pieces.
The 2019 Winter season opens at Leeds Grand Theatre with The Magic Flute on Saturday 19 January before touring to The Lowry at Salford Quays, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Nottingham Theatre Royal.