Opera North (ON) has added a series of new productions to its Switch ON project, a programme of indoor and outdoor performances and digital events, the Leeds-based opera company has announced.

New indoor performances start with a double-bill of Handel’s pastoral opera Acis and Galatea (1718) and Brecht and Weill’s satirical ‘sung ballet’ Seven Deadly Sins (1933). This will be performed at Leeds Playhouse from 11-21 November.

The former is directed by rising young British theatre director Anna Pool and conducted by Anthony Kraus. The cast includes tenor Nicholas Watts as Acis and soprano Amy Freston as Galatea. Gary Clarke will direct and choreograph Seven Deadly Sins, with James Holmes conducting a cast that includes Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as Anna, along with dancer Shelley Eva Haden, a graduate of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

December will see a concert tour of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio (1805). The tour will open at Leeds Town Hall with four performances in Opera North’s home city before touring to other venues in the north. It will see the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North performing together for the first time since March.

The opera will be performed by a British cast that includes soprano Rachel Nicholls as Leonore and tenor Toby Spence as Florestan, both making their Opera North debuts. It will be conducted by Mark Wigglesworth.

The newly devised Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella offers a relaxed and fun introduction to opera through the music of different composers’ takes on the same fairytale. It will tour small-scale local venues, bringing live performance back to community settings across the region.

Created and directed by John Savournin for three singers and accordion, the pop-up-style performances will visit venues including the City Varieties and Slung Low at The Holbeck in Leeds, The Lowry, Salford Quays, Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven, Otley Courthouse and the National Centre for Early Music in York.

“Opera North is determined to keep performing and sharing incredible music with communities in our home city of Leeds, in villages, towns and cities across the North, and with audiences digitally beyond geographical limits,” Richard Mantle, Opera North’s general director, commented.

“There is no doubt in my mind that arts venues are exemplary in providing a safe and secure environment in which to enjoy live performance and we can contribute to enlivening and building back city centres. Although all our current planning is against the unpredictable background of Covid-19, meaning that some venues or dates may shift to reflect changing circumstances, our commitment to sharing great opera and music is unwavering.

“This announcement, including the new double-bill of Acis and Galatea and Seven Deadly Sins, along with Fidelio, completes the line-up for our Switch ON season this autumn, designed to reintroduce performances safely and innovatively in a wide range of contexts and venues, from live events in theatres and concert halls to new recordings to be experienced outdoors through headphones in As You Are and La petite bohème.”

More than 14,000 tickets will be available for events in the Switch ON season, at over 40 different venues, with 79% of tickets either free, pay-as-you-feel or priced at under £15. A live-streamed concert from Leeds Town Hall, Switch ON: Live from Leeds, celebrating the season, is available to watch live on Opera North’s YouTube channel.



The Orchestra of Opera North performs its first live concert after lockdown (Guzelian).