General Director, Richard Mantle has made a statement that you can read here


Update (6/7/11): Progress has been made, discussions are ongoing

Opera North has been working over the past two years on an extended programme of work with community groups in Bridlington. One part of this ‘residency’ was to have been the performance of a specially commissioned community piece from composer Harvey Brough and librettist Lee Hall, called Beached, which featured 300 children and local participants.

Opera North very much regrets that the production can no longer proceed as a result  of the position taken by the local authority and the major participating school about the subject matter of the opera. The opera deals with a broad range of issues but the way in which certain themes, including those around sexuality (hetero and homosexual), bullying and drug taking were tackled was at odds with the teaching policy of the local authority on these issues. Opera North has tried to convince both the school concerned and the librettist, Lee Hall, to reach a position on the issue which would have enabled the production to proceed. It is distressing to all concerned that agreement could not be reached.

Opera North takes the view that regardless of whether we agree or not, we have to accept that the school, which includes its teaching staff and the governing body, is legally and morally within its rights, even encouraged within its ‘loco parentis’ status, to make its own judgement about when and how it introduces discussions about sexuality with its children, some of whom are as young as 5. The school has decided, after an enormous amount of thought and reflection with the team at Opera North and the local authority, that they are not geared up to change their plans in such a short timeframe regarding how and when they will do this. As an opera company we have to take the difficult position of accepting that the school is entitled to make this decision and we have to accept that. Furthermore, the school have been supported in this decision by the local authority. In the end this is not about personality or personal opinion, it’s about education policy over which Opera North can have no control.

Although Lee Hall was invited to come to Bridlington to engage with the school and others directly, this was sadly not possible. Despite this, with just 2 weeks to go, we made it clear to the school and to the local authority that we were still willing to proceed with the opera as it stands but, ultimately, the school, with the support of its governing body and the local authority has withdrawn from the project. Opera North has fought hard to resolve the concerns of the school and of Lee Hall but ultimately cannot perform the work without the schools agreement or participation.

Opera North wishes to make it clear that it absolutely rejects any accusations that it is at all discriminatory and is dismayed that anyone would draw these conclusions.