Opera North is set to livestream its first ever staging of Handel’s Alcina (1735) via the streaming platform OperaVision, the Leeds-based company has announced.
The 7pm performance at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 17 February will be streamed live to audiences around the world via OperaVision’s website; a recording of the show will then be available to watch on demand for six months. The performance will be sung in Italian, with English subtitles. Access to the stream is free.
Alcina is directed by Tim Albery in a production which will move beyond the conventions of women playing male roles in early opera to a deeper exploration of gender fluidity and identity. A tale of deception, seduction, love and loss, this bewitching opera tells the story of the sorceress Alcina, who uses her magical powers to bewitch the young knight Ruggiero and keep him captive in her island paradise. But when Ruggiero’s betrothed arrives on a mission to rescue him, Alcina’s magic is tested to breaking point.
The cast includes Irish soprano Máire Flavin in the title role. Ruggiero is sung by American countertenor Patrick Terry, who will be making his Opera North debut alongside Norwegian mezzo-soprano Mari Askvik as his bride-to-be Bradamante and British soprano Fflur Wyn as Morgana, the sister of Alcina. Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings conducts.
This new staging of Alcina is notable for being Opera North’s first sustainable mainstage production, following successful trials in utilising reused and recycled sets. Designer Hannah Clark has created the set and costumes using elements from previous productions, as well as sourcing vintage or secondhand costumes and props. Nothing that appears on stage will be newly purchased, and the environmental impact of making and transporting the scenic elements and the wider impacts of the supply chain have all been taken into consideration.
Richard Mantle, Opera North’s general director, commented: “Our first mainstage sustainable production, Alcina, is an important milestone for Opera North’s sustainability journey, as part of our ongoing commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and to be a leader for the wider industry in this area.
“We are delighted to be able to livestream this production in partnership with OperaVision, enabling us to share this performance of Handel’s wondrous music with a wider national and international audience, in addition to showcasing the production values that can be achieved within a more sustainable framework.”
Opera North’s first staging of Alcina forms part of the company’s winter 2022 season, which also comprises new productions of Bizet’s Carmen (1875) directed by Edward Dick – the company’s first new version of this much-loved opera in more than a decade – and Verdi’s Rigoletto (1851) directed by Femi Elufowoju jr, making his operatic debut. Alcina opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on 5 February, before touring to venues across northern England.
OperaVision brings together 29 opera companies from 17 countries – including the Royal Opera, Irish National Opera, Royal Swedish Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and many more – to offer viewers around the world free online access to selected performances of operas and concerts. It also hosts an extensive digital library of introductions to some of the best-known operas, interviews with opera stars, resources for artists, behind the scenes footage, activities and lesson plans for children and more.
Supported by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme, it falls under the editorial supervision of Opera Europa, the European association of opera companies and festivals.
Soprano Máire Flavin as Alcina during rehearsals for Opera North’s new production of Handel’s bewitching opera, composed for his first season at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, in London – now the Royal Opera House (Tom Arber).