With two weeks to go until the opening of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore, Kay Shepherd explains why returning to the choreography is like meeting old friends:

Hal Cazalet as Richard Dauntless (centre). Photo: Robert Workman

“Having had such a joyous time choreographing the original production of Ruddigore for Opera North in 2010, I was both excited and a little apprehensive about returning for the revival. Happily, any concerns about keeping the working process fresh were unfounded and I am now at the start of rehearsal week  three, with two really positive weeks behind me.

“Most of the cast is the same as before and I was correct in believing that the majority of the movement and dance would ‘come back’ to the performers’ bodies with a little help from music, lyrics, props, other actors and myself.

“The rediscovery of movements is sometimes like bumping into old friends… much excitement! We then have to remember why we became friends in the first place and not get overtaken with the joy of muscle memory.

Richard Burkhard as Sir Despard Murgatroyd. Photo: Robert Workman

“Most of the choreography in the production is as before, but there have been natural developments through re-rehearsal and I have made a few small changes.

“The main objective for me is for the final product to be clear in style and narrative, and for the performers to look and feel comfortable with what I ask them to do.

“And so onwards. I like Leeds, I like Opera North and I like Ruddigore. Happy Days.”

Kay Shepherd
Choreographer, Ruddigore

Opera North’s production of Ruddigore, by Gilbert & Sullivan, directed by Jo Davies, opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on Friday 30 September. For more information and booking details, click here.

Listen to some sound clips from the production here.

Ruddigore – ‘Cheerily carols the lark’ by Opera North

Ruddigore – ‘I once was a very abandon’d person’ by Opera North


Don Carlos

2009 has already proven to be a momentous year for Opera North; our 30th birthday year and the opening of the Howard Assembly Room alone,  and Opera North’s 2009/10 season is set to show even more creativity and ambition for opera and arts lovers alike, with an exciting repertoire on the mainstage and in our new venue.

Presenting five new productions, including our third World Premiere in as many years, Swanhunter, we will show innovation, with our first ever production of Janáček’s offbeat comedy, The Adventures of Mr Brouček, Opera North’s nurturing of young talent in Massenet’s Werther, our continued commitment to exploring the lighter areas of musical theatre in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore and our desire to continually reach out to new audiences with our family focused commission, Swanhunter. All this in addition to championing fantastic vocal talent in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda.

This season we revive two popular operas, Puccini’s La Bohème and Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Phyllida Lloyd’s La Bohème returns after nearly a decade, whilst Tim Albery’s Così fan tutte has a largely young cast of familiar and unfamiliar faces to Opera North. We hope that both will bring a whole new generation of audiences to opera.

Following on from the success of The Adventures of Pinocchio in 2007, Opera North has commissioned the same writing partnership of composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton to produce a family-focused chamber opera for the Autumn. Swanhunter is based on a Norse myth and is being lead by Opera North’s highly esteemed education department, further extending our relationships and relevance to young people. It will premiere in November at the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds and will then tour to small scale venues throughout the North of England.

The culmination of Transformation was the opening of the Howard Assembly Room at Opera North earlier this year and we have seen an exciting programme to date, in addition to the venue now functioning well as the home and rehearsal space of the Orchestra of Opera North and the education department. This is the first space to be programmed by Opera North and we look forward to announcing the future programme, which will continue to encompass a diverse range of artforms, from classical recitals and contemporary concerts to small-scale opera and visual art.

We very much hope you enjoy the new season and you can access the full press release here.

Richard Mantle, General Director