Opera North Projects Manager Jo Nockels on preparations for Light Night, taking place across Leeds on Friday 7 October.

Light Night is now just four nights away and there is a hive of activity around the preparation of the installation ‘O Let me Weep,’ that will be taking place in the Howard Assembly Room. Light Night is a unique opportunity to throw open the doors of the venue to hundreds of people over the course of a few hours and offer them a glimpse into a new world, this year the enchanted wood of the opera The Fairy Queen.

Large hanging frames for the installation are currently being made, ready to be rigged in the roof this Friday. The dress maker has been fitting the extraordinary dress to singer Claire Bradshaw, images of forests and clouds will be projected onto the dress as they will with the hanging screens.

Whilst I say there is a hive of activity, the hive is not really here at Opera North just yet. The frames are in workshops in the basement, the dress has been designed and fitted at the singer’s house, the projections are being developed to run on sophisticated video software and the musicians don’t arrive until Thursday night for their rehearsal. It’s the moment of greatest tension in developing any new production: will it feel how we expect? How will everything work? Will everyone turn up?

My favourite part of Light Night projects is the reaction and interaction from the audience. During O Let me Weep, people will be able wander in and out of the room, so becoming part of the piece. Meandering through the ‘forest’ of screens, you automically become somewhere between an observer and a protagonist in the drama, perhaps encountering Titania herself, feeling the power of her voice, and this extraordinary moment in the opera. In the story of The Fairy Queen, this is when Titania wakes and realises that her husband has humiliated her and that her marriage is over. We wanted to explore what happens when you repeat that moment again and again, when you get stuck in that moment and that emotion.

Jo Nockels
Opera North Projects Manager


O Let me Weep takes place in the Howard Assembly Room as part of Light Night in Leeds on Friday 7th October. It is a free, five hour video installation with performance by mezzo-soprano Claire Bradshaw, guitarist Craig Ogden and oboist Hazel Cropper. Entrance is from 5pm-10pm and visiters can come and go at will.


The countdown to Yorkshire’s Cultural Olympiad activity has begun with the launch of the brand new Leeds Canvas website

Opera North is one of eight leading Yorkshire-based arts organisations taking part in Leeds Canvas alongside Northern Ballet, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Dance, Leeds Met Gallery and Studio Theatre, Leeds City Council, and Leeds Art Gallery. 

This exciting new project is one of 12 arts commissions that will be realised across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The city of Leeds will form the canvas upon which major artists will be invited to create something that will change the way people see, experience and understand the city.

The joint project, which is developed through Arts Council England funding, will uphold the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games by delivering a high profile arts commission in the region every four years.

Leeds Canvas’ first commissioned work will take place in May 2012, and involves the highly-regarded and quirky Quay Brothers: identical twins whose award-winning stop-motion animation films have won them worldwide acclaim. Working with composers, choreographers, artists and filmmakers from the region, they will explore the themes of chance, discovery and surprise. 

Talking about the project the Quay Brothers said: ‘For us it is a fabulous opportunity to use the city of Leeds as a vast scenographic space. We have the entire city to create an unexpected marriage between all these different artforms.’

Visit the Leeds Canvas website for more information, blogs and regular updates at

The Quay Brothers

The Girl I Left Behind Me will be performed at festivals this summer starting with Frome Festival on Saturday 9th July. There will then be performances at Buxton Festival on 12th and 24th July.

Following these summer dates will be a number of performances to accompany our residency at The Barbican Centre this November. These performances will take place on 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th November in The Pit Theatre at The Barbican.

Devised by Neil Bartlett and Jessica Walker The Girl I Left Behind Me is a supremely well-sung and coolly contemporary look at one of the most intriguing questions of musical theatre – just what is it that makes a woman in trousers so appealing? From the swaggering cross-dressers of the Victorian Music Hall, to the ambiguous boy-heroes of Mozart and Strauss, to the back-room bull-dykes of the Haarlem Renaissance, this is a provocative, flirtatious and deliciously personal one-woman guide to a whole forgotten chapter of female performance.

You can watch a trailer for The Girl I Left Behind Me below