Noah Stewart as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly

Just days after the opening night of Madama Butterfly in the Leeds Grand Theatre and the Autumn season is now officially open. There was a wonderful response to Saturday’s performance and with the Howard Assembly Room programme already running and orchestral concerts in Kirklees about to begin, the Company is truly operating at full tilt. The Autumn performance diary lists some 79 events right up to 1st January.

It is often said that in times of constraint the bold get bolder and there are many bold and exciting moments ahead for us this season, including one of the largest and most ambitious new productions in our history: Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades.  Our Music Director Richard Farnes has been campaigning for this for many years, possibly since he began with us some eight years ago, and we are extremely excited to be bringing what we consider to be one of the composer’s most underrated operas to fruition. It is a ‘grand’ opera, with big music and an even bigger cast – an additional chorus of 26 has been brought in to add to our full-time 30 members. And it features an exceptional cast, which includes Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, who received great acclaim for his Peter Grimes, and Dame Josephine Barstow. It also has the exciting twist of being directed by one of the country’s most inspirational theatre directors and a great story-teller himself, Neil Bartlett.

And we return to London this season in an exciting new partnership with the Barbican. We have always maintained a certain presence in the Capital and we are delighted to be returning this season with two operas and a more intimate avant-garde music theatre piece, The Girl I Left Behind Me.

The exceptional revivals on the mainstage are two of our most popular productions in recent years – Madama Butterfly and Ruddigore will take audiences from deep tragedy to comic hilarity, both with wonderful music.

And as for the programme of events and activities in the Howard Assembly Room, we are looking forward to sharing this broader face of Opera North with new and familiar audiences. We have always felt that as a company we have a responsibility to bring more than just opera to people and there is an abundance of work to be enjoyed in this space.

I hope that you dip a toe in our sea of events this season and enjoy whatever you take part in.

Richard Mantle, General Director