From old favourites to brand new works, and from Victorian Whitechapel to 1950s American suburbia, Opera North’s 2020-21 season has something for everyone, the Leeds-based company has announced.
The season is planned to open in September – coronavirus restrictions allowing – with a revival of Alessandro Talevi’s deeply moving production of La traviata (The Fallen Woman, Verdi, 1853). Set in Belle Époque Paris, the role of Violetta is shared between young Russian soprano Anna Denisova and Italian-Brazilian soprano Camila Titinger, while Alfredo is sung by Maltese tenor Nico Darmanin.
Opera North is collaborating with Phoenix Dance Theatre to present a unique double bill of works by Leonard Bernstein. West Side Story Symphonic Dances is a new dance work devised and choreographed by Aletta Collins interpreting Bernstein’s thrilling, poignant music outside of the narrative of West Side Story.
The work will play in a double bill with a revival of Bernstein’s short opera Trouble in Tahiti (1952), directed by Matthew Eberhardt with Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang as Sam and American mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy as Dinah.
Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel is a new opera by composer Iain Bell and librettist Emma Jenkins. Premiering in 2019, it refocuses the story away from the infamous killer to his victims. The cast will include Welsh soprano Elin Pritchard as Mary Kelly, English soprano Dame Josephine Barstow as Maud and English soprano Lesley Garrett as Catherine Eddowes.
Heading into next year, Bizet’s Carmen (1875) opens in January 2021. This brand new version of one of the opera world’s best-known works marks Garry Walker’s first production as Opera North’s new music director, while Edward Dick directs the company’s first Carmen in almost a decade. American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E Williams sings the title role, with Canadian tenor Antoine Bélanger as Don José.
Garry Walker commented: “I’m excited to be joining the company as music director and delighted to be part of an organisation providing so much artistic diversity to, and so many different opportunities for, the area it serves. Edward Dick’s new Carmen will present afresh one of the most beloved of all operatic masterpieces.”
Opera North’s first ever production of Handel’s Alcina (1735) will represent the company’s first large-scale production to use only recycled, re-used and second-hand materials for the set, props and costumes.
This intriguing opera, about a powerful enchantress and those who fall under her spell, will be directed by Tim Albery and conducted by Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings. Irish soprano Máire Flavin sings the part of Alcina, with American countertenor Patrick Terry as Ruggiero.
Rounding off the season is a new concert staging of Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal (1882). The company’s former music director, Richard Farnes, returns to conduct a superb cast including British tenor Toby Spence, who sings his first Parsifal, Swedish mezzo-soprano Katarina Karnéus, English bass Brindley Sherratt, English bass baritone Robert Hayward and American baritone Eric Greene.
General Director Richard Mantle said: “This season, including five new productions, exemplifies the astonishing breadth of Opera North’s artistic programme, from collaborating with Phoenix Dance Theatre on the world premiere of Aletta Collins’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances to a sustainable production of Handel’s Alcina and an unmissable concert tour of Wagner’s last masterpiece, Parsifal.”
Alessandro Talevi’s production of Verdi’s La traviata will return to Opera North later this year for the company’s 2020-21 season (Tom Arber).