The Opening Night!

The last in the series of Opera North’s Così fan tutte blog and Richard Mantle, General Director, reflects on the highs and lows of the last seven weeks, the buzz of the first night and why you should not miss Così fan tutte!


It’s all of seven weeks since our cast and creative team arrived in Leeds to begin rehearsals, and last Friday night was the first performance and the culmination of an intense period of preparation and planning.

The final rehearsal week is when everything finally comes together; the set for the production has been built on stage, the singers are now in costume, the lighting is taking shape and the orchestra joins the stage rehearsals, thus all the elements of this complex jigsaw begin to fall into place. But not by accident! This is the moment we have been anticipating for two years and is what creates the real buzz and excitement – Opening Night!

As the General Director, I have been around rehearsals and performances of literally hundreds of operas, but I never fail to marvel at the way in which a great variety of talent is crafted together to realise, in this case, one of the great operatic masterpieces of all time. It is a supreme lesson in collaboration, teamwork and expression and a true testament to the fantastic skills, talents and discipline which exist in Opera North.

What is all the more rewarding is to see how well our young cast have been crafted and enthused into a brilliant ensemble; after this painstaking period of rehearsal, often a rollercoaster ride of high emotion and meticulous attention to detail, we arrived at the great moment of performing for the public.

Before the show it was electric backstage! This production of Così may be a revival and yet it’s all the more important to ensure perfection from everyone involved – singers, musicians, stage management, costume and wigs team and the technical crew. It’s at this point that we, the management, can have no effect on what is about to happen – simply to wish everyone “Toi Toi Toi” and enjoy the performance along with the audience.

Equally, the front-of-house was buzzing and I was entertaining a large number of guests including many of our generous donors who support our work; the critics were in, though I am sometimes disappointed when some of our journalistic colleagues don’t review revivals, particularly when we have fielded a wonderful and talented cast such as this.

What a great night it was! Tim Albery’s production is incisive, emotional, beautiful, yet witty and gritty and if ever there was a case for performing opera in the language of the audience, this is it – pretty much every single word can be understood so no problem even for an opera virgin!

Our cast performed at their peak and all gave performances of such character and clarity, singing some of the most sublime yet challenging music Mozart ever wrote. The beautiful, sensitive, yet vigorous playing from the orchestra gave us an evening to remember. It’s at a first night that I invariably feel very proud of this company and the total dedication of everyone involved. Later that evening we all celebrated with a well deserved glass of wine!

The wonderful thing about opera is that no two productions of a piece are the same, the possibilities of musical and theatrical interpretation are immense, and there is always something fresh to discover. So coming to a live performance enables everyone to join in that emotional rollercoaster ride, and also enjoy some pretty fabulous music and theatre. If you’ve not yet booked to come to Così fan tutte, miss it at your peril! For more information and to book click here.