Opera North brings madcap capers from Mozart, Benjamin Britten’s spine-chilling ghost story and simmering Broadway song and dance from Kurt Weill to Nottingham for its winter season at the Theatre Royal.
The Leeds-based company has long championed the work of Weill, and opening the run on 17 March (returning on 20 March) is a new production of Street Scene, the show the composer considered to be his masterpiece. Tensions mount in and around a Lower East Side tenement building on a stiflingly hot summer’s day in the late 1940s, as the residents struggle with their individual desires, dreams and disappointments. Opera North favourites 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 Broadway song and dance numbers, it is no surprise that Street Scene 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 Weill’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.
“It’s got a great story, which I think is very relatable”, says Matthew. “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!”
Jo Davies’ witty interpretation of Mozart’s joyous farce of mistaken identity and misunderstandings, The Marriage of Figaro follows on 18 March, reprised on 21 March. We join Figaro on his wedding day, but all is not going to plan. 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 pageboy 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 (19 March) 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.
With all three operas offering something different for first-time operagoers, newcomers can once again take advantage of Opera North’s Try It ON initiative which offers seats in the stalls for £20. And with Opera North’s Under 30s scheme, anyone who is aged between 19 and 29 years old or a full time student can book £10.00 tickets for any of the performances.
Continuing the tradition of the Orchestra of Opera North’s visits to the free Live at Lunch stage during its week in residence at the theatre, violinist David Greed, leader of the ensemble since its inception, is joined in the Dress Circle Foyer by co-principal Horn Alexander Hamilton and Annette Saunders, Assistant Head of Music on piano on Friday 20 March. At the heart of their programme, Brahms’ heartfelt Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano was written to commemorate the death of the composer’s mother, and moves from poignant contemplation to a joyful celebration of life.
For more details and to book for Opera North’s performances at the Theatre Royal Nottingham, visit trch.co.uk or call Box Office on 0115 989 5555.