The last date of the 2009/10 season has just passed in Nottingham and signals the end of the full year’s repertoire. It has been an exciting year for the Company, we had a wonderful season earlier in the year with the revival of La Bohème and the new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore – both enticed existing and new audiences to fill the theatres and it was encouraging to hear them demand for more. We also celebrated a welcome return to the Company by mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, who thrilled us with her interpretation of Mary Queen of Scots in Antony McDonald’s Mary Stuart.
The Howard Assembly Room celebrated its first anniversary – who would have thought it would be possible to re-create this classical and elegant Victorian hall in the form of a giant cake! It was certainly enjoyed by all those who attended the celebration. The space is growing in reputation and prestige as a place to encounter high quality events that range from classical performers such as Joanna McGregor to world music legends such as American jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. With over two thirds of events now regularly selling out, it is worth dipping a toe and trying one of the free ‘Twilight’ events or bringing the family along to a truly engaging children’s workshop –there’s nothing quite like it in the city of Leeds.
And so to the Summer and further ahead. For the artistic members of the Company, July heralds the imminent arrival of rest and respite, holidays that will enable them to rest their voices and bodies before beginning rehearsals again at the end of August. The new decade and season offer Opera North the opportunity to redefine and re-establish itself as a vital, leading arts organisation, presenting a broad range of work that engages audiences of all ages and tastes. Whilst currently operating in a climate of financial uncertainty, Opera North continues to do what it does best, which is to present new and exciting work to the public. This year is certainly no exception, with a full season rich in new productions.
Framing the year on the mainstage are the popular Merry Widow and Carmen, whilst probing into Opera North’s darkside are three operas based on novels; From the House of the Dead, The Turn of the Screw and The Portrait. The Orchestra of Opera North takes a bold step forward with Der Ring des Nibelungen, a development of the ‘Opera in Concert’ series, under the leadership of Music Director Richard Farnes.
Look out for a special ‘Christmas at the Grand’ season, with the family-friendly The Adventures of Pinocchio returning to join The Merry Widow in a family orientated Christmas season at Leeds Grand Theatre.
We always keep in mind that Opera North’s success is largely due to a confident and powerful funding partnership between the public and private sectors, with the former bearing by far and away the most significant element. There has never been a more important time for us to consider how we face our future and the challenges ahead, but we shall return refreshed and revitalised at the end of the Summer, ready to perform again and show the public we are an organisation in which to believe and follow.