Madcap capers, a spine-chilling ghost story and simmering tensions in 1940s New York make up Opera North’s compelling new season which tours to The Lowry in March.
First up is Jo Davies’ witty interpretation of The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s joyous farce of mistaken identity and misunderstandings. We join Figaro on his wedding day, but preparations are not progressing as planned. His master, Count Almaviva, is keen to take advantage of an ancient feudal right to seduce Susanna, Figaro’s bride-to-be. Meanwhile, the heartbroken Countess finds herself the object of the page-boy Cherubino’s infatuation and, to top it all off, if Figaro cannot repay a debt to the housekeeper Marcellina, he will have to tie the knot with her instead!
In this fast-paced comic opera, New Zealand baritone Phillip Rhodes and Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn make their role debuts as Figaro and Susanna, while Quirijn de Lang makes a welcome return as Count Almaviva alongside Máire Flavin as the Countess. Mozart’s sublime score is conducted by Opera North’s new Principal Guest Conductor, Antony Hermus, with the high-spirited action taking place against the backdrop of Leslie Travers’ timeless designs.
Alessandro Talevi’s production of The Turn of the Screw chilled many a spine when it was first performed in 2010. Based on the novella by Henry James, this tale of strange happenings in a remote country house reaches new levels of terror and claustrophobia as Britten’s disturbingly beautiful music ratchets up the tension at each twist and turn of the plot.
Nicholas Watts is the spectral Peter Quint, while Sarah Tynan returns to Opera North to play the Governess appointed to take charge of the orphaned Flora and Miles. Are they really at the mercy of strange and menacing spirits or is it all in her troubled mind? Leo McFall conducts.
“It’s got a great story, which I think is very relatable. In a basic way, it’s about neighbours and families, so if you’ve had any dealings with either, then there’s something here for you!”
Matthew Eberhardt, Director, Street Scene
Opera North has long championed the work of Kurt Weill and, completing the season, is a new production of Street Scene, the show the composer considered to be his masterpiece. Street Scene turns the spotlight on a Lower East Side tenement building on a stiflingly hot summer’s day as the residents struggle with their individual desires, dreams and disappointments. Giselle Allen and Robert Hayward take on the roles of Anna and Frank Maurrant, alongside members of the Chorus of Opera North, including Gillene Butterfield as their daughter, Rose, and Alex Banfield as her lover, Sam.
With operatic arias rubbing shoulders with music from Broadway, it is no surprise that the opera won Best Original Score at the very first Tony awards in 1947. Conducting the piece will be James Holmes, one of the world’s leading interpreters of the composer’s work, while the director is Matthew Eberhardt, whose production of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti was a highlight of Opera North’s The Little Greats season in 2017.
With all three operas offering something different for first-time opera goers, newcomers can once again take advantage of Opera North’s Try It ON initiative which offers seats in the stalls for £20, while young people aged 18-25 can take advantage of £10 tickets with The Lowry’s U26 scheme.
While in residence at The Lowry, the company will also be getting younger toes tapping on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March with a short musical adaptation of Dr Seuss’ much-loved classic, Green Eggs and Ham. Composed by Robert Kapilow and suitable for children from 4 years old, this bitesize introduction to opera tells the comic tale of Sam-I-Am who is trying to persuade a grumpy grouch to try a plate of green eggs and ham by convincing him they may taste better than he thinks!
During the 45-minute event, the audience will be invited to take part in an interactive session where they will be introduced to the music, instruments and themes within the piece, before soprano singers Susie Buckle and Gabriella Cassidy, accompanied by a nine-piece orchestra, bring Sam-I-Am’s mission to life on stage.
The Lowry, Salford Quays
Box Office: 0343 208 6000 Online: thelowry.com
Tue 10 Mar The Marriage of Figaro 7.00pm
Wed 11 Mar The Turn of the Screw 7.30pm
Thu 12 Mar The Marriage of Figaro (audio-described) 7.00pm
Fri 13 Mar Street Scene (captioned) 7.00pm
Sat 14 Mar The Marriage of Figaro 7.00pm