A larger-than-life character, a zany look at climate change and a heart-stopping romance, arrive in Salford this autumn as Opera North brings its Green Season to The Lowry.
The Green Season has seen Opera North investigating how to stage opera as sustainably as possible by interrogating supply chains, lighting rigs, touring logistics and costume designs, and using the sets and props from previous productions kept at the Company’s Scenic Stores in Leeds.
Falstaff, Verdi’s take on Shakespeare’s lovable rogue, is up first on Wednesday 15 November. In this new production, the action is transported to the 1980s where the impecunious Falstaff has his eye on a couple of rich wives as his passport to a brighter future. Unfortunately for him, the ladies are no fools and have already decided to teach him a lesson he will never forget.
After playing Parson in The Cunning Little Vixen, Henry Waddington returns to Opera North to take on the title role and says: “Fat, old, lazy, selfish, lecherous, broke and pretty cunning, Sir John Falstaff is one of the greatest comic characters in theatre so to get a chance to perform this role is both a joy and an honour.” An audio-described and signed matinee performance offers another chance to see the show at 2pm on Saturday 18 November.
On Thursday 16 November is a brand-new work titled Masque of Might which ‘repurposes’ the music of baroque composer Purcell, bringing together the well-known and rarely-performed to create a tale of environmental depredation at the hands of an evil dictator.
Using the format of a masque, the seventeenth century’s version of a variety show, Sir David Pountney has created a witty parable which both questions and celebrates our relationship with the natural world: “I very much hope to offer the audience a serious evening delivered with a twinkle, and of course a sumptuous banquet of less familiar Purcell music.”
Friday 17 November is the date for romance as Puccini’s La rondine takes to the stage. As the composer of La bohème and Madama Butterfly, Puccini is no stranger to passion in all its guises. In La rondine (The Swallow), Magda, the mistress of a wealthy banker, takes flight with the young Ruggero risking everything for her heart’s desire – but will there be a fairytale ending to her pursuit of true love? James Hurley directs this new production which whisks audiences from the stylish salons of 1930s Paris to the carefree world of the French Riviera. Soprano Galina Averina sings Magda alongside tenor Sébastien Guèze as Ruggero.
Set designer Leslie Travers is an Opera North regular – designing the sets for all three productions has involved revisiting much of his previous work:
“I love this history of the shows we’ve done together, and I’ve loved giving them another life for the Green Season. Falstaff, for example, features windows from Figaro which we’ve resized and adapted, the sky from Orpheus at the back, and there are shelves full of objects that frame and comment on the action and reappear as elements in the sets of the other two operas.”
Opera North’s Green Season will be at The Lowry from Wednesday 15 November to Saturday 18 November.
THE LOWRY, SALFORD
Wed 15 Nov 7.00pm Falstaff
Thu 16 Nov 7.00pm Masque of Might
Fri 17 Nov 7.00pm La rondine
Sat 18 Nov 2.00pm Falstaff (Audio described / Signed)