Leeds-based company Opera North has announced the postponement of all mainstage productions in its autumn 2020 and winter 2021 seasons, due to the ongoing coronavirus health crisis and the latest guidance on live performances.
Set to open in September, the opera company had planned a packed autumn programme of events that consisted of productions of La traviata (The Fallen Woman, Verdi, 1853), Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel (Bell, 2019), and a Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein, 1952)/West Side Story Symphonic Dances double bill. The winter 2021 season would have seen productions of Carmen (Bizet, 1875), Handel’s Alcina (1735) and Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West (1910).
Instead these shows will be rescheduled over the next two years. Ticket holders will be contacted 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.
Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North, commented: “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 evident that it is no longer possible for Opera North to produce, rehearse and tour these large-scale productions as originally planned.
“Rehearsals for our autumn season were due to begin in July, 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 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.”
Opera North is devising a new programme of artistic activity for the autumn 2020 season. This will include a range of live musical and operatic performances, respecting government guidelines, together with innovative digital events for audiences in Leeds and across the north.
The first of these events will be an interactive soundwalk through 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. Audiences 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.
Further events will be announced in due course.
“We remain committed to making live music and creating extraordinary experiences, every day, for and with the communities we serve,” Mantle continued. “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.”
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. Opera North’s new concert staging of Wagner’s Parsifal (1882), scheduled to be performed at concert halls across the country in spring 2021, remains on sale.
Opera North’s production of Verdi’s La traviata is one of several that will be rescheduled due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis (Richard H Smith).