Opera North has announced dates for livestreams of two major productions that were due to be performed for live audiences. These performances have had to be cancelled due to England once more being in lockdown.
The Leeds-based opera company’s version of Brecht and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) was due to open at Leeds Playhouse on Wednesday 11 November in a double-bill with Handel’s Acis and Galatea (1718). These performances will now be rescheduled to early 2021.
Instead, Gary Clarke’s new production will be livestreamed from Leeds Playhouse on Sat 21 November at 6pm. The ‘sung ballet’ tells the story of two Annas, who have been sent away for seven years to make money for their struggling family. They journey between seven cities from Philadelphia to San Francisco, encounting sloth, pride, wrath, gluttony, lust, greed and envy on the way.
This will be Opera North’s first fully staged opera since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March. The production lasts 40 minutes and will be available to watch live or on demand for 48 hours for £10.
Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio will be livestreamed from Leeds Town Hall on Saturday 12 December at 7pm. Fidelio is actually Leonore, a noblewoman disguised as a man, in search of her husband Florestan, who has been unjustly imprisoned.
A cast of internationally renowned singers will be conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and directed by Matthew Eberhardt. They will perform with a 33-piece orchestra and 24-strong chorus, creating one of the largest on-stage ensembles since the Covid-19 outbreak.
Fidelio was due to open at Leeds Town Hall on 29 November for four performances, all of which are now cancelled.
The livestream will run for 1 hour and 45 minutes. It will be available to watch live or on demand for seven days for £15.
Richard Mantle, general director at Opera North, commented: “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.”
Several other events that were part of Opera North’s Switch ON season have been postponed or cancelled. A tour of a new Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella, planned for November and December, will be rescheduled for live performances in early 2021. The company is set to film the production and make it available online for free during December, giving schools and families an alternative to a Christmas pantomime trip this year.
Outdoor soundwalk As You Are, composed by Abel Selaocoe and recorded with the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, and La petite bohème, Matthew Robins’s 20-minute animation of Act III of Puccini’s La bohème (The Bohemians, 1896), will be rescheduled as soon as possible in line with changes to Covid-19 restrictions regarding outdoor events.
A planned tour of Wagner’s Parsifal (1882), scheduled for May and June 2021, will be postponed to a future year. The scale of production needed to perform this work, with more than 130 musicians on stage, isn’t possible with social distancing in place for performers. To replace the production in 2021, Opera North will present an evening of music from Wagner’s Ring, conducted by Richard Farnes and using Jonathan Dove’s orchestrations.
“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,” Mantle continued.
“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.”
Opera North’s new production of Brecht and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins will be livestreamed from Leeds Playhouse on Saturday 21 November at 6pm (Tristram Kenton).