Leeds is the first city out of LondonI have visited and my first impressions were somewhat mixed. News of riots in the UK sparked my family and friends to worry about my safety. Luckily for me the riots did not happen in Leeds, plus I was met by my own personal bodyguard who is best known as Jane Bonner, Opera North’s Company Manager. Standing at five feet six inches tall she immediately took one of my bags and said, “You don’t travel light I see”. I knew instantly that I would enjoy my time with Opera North and in Leeds. Besides Jane’s pleasant welcome, I was also informed by my good friend and friend of Opera North’s Sandy Eddy.Sandy recently performed the role of Carmen with Opera North. I had the good fortune of singing one of my first Don Jose’s with her at Chicago Opera Theater, when she was several months pregnant with Bea, her daughter.

After Jane and I got things squared away at the apartment, we walked back to the offices at Leeds Grand Theatre. As we walked over Leeds Bridge, through what is the biggest weekend party strip in Leeds, I suddenly saw a mirage. That mirage was Nandos. I was first introduced to Nandos when I was performing in a production of Carmen in Opera Africa in Johannesburg and became instantly hooked. We don’t have Nandos in America, so having one that is blocks away from my flat made me smile from ear to ear.

It took about 3 weeks to get fully settled here in Leeds but that’s part of life on the road.  Jane helped square away my gym membership, which is essential for me. It’s important for me to look like the characters I’m playing as best as I can. I’m singing the role of B.F. Pinkerton who is a young, confident and sometimes brash naval officer from America, in Opera North’s revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Besides having a truly great cast and technical crew, the production is directed by Tim Albery and conducted by Daniele Rustioni. This role not only marks my UK debut, but my debut of the role of Pinkerton and I am very excited and lucky to have this knockout one-two punch combo!

While also in the UK this fall, I will be doing promotional appearances for my upcoming debut CD, which will be released this spring. Stay tuned for important news and dates!

Madama Butterfly opens on Saturday 17 September. For more information and tickets go here.

For Noah Stewart’s personal blog, click here.

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