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Opera North's Winter Season: Butterfly, Grimes and a new English opera (BK)


Opera North’s winter season gets off to an exciting start with the world premiere of  The Adventures of Pinocchio by the award-winning composer Jonathan Dove and playwright Alasdair Middleton. Based on the original 1883 book by Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio is Opera North’s first newly commissioned full-scale opera for nine years.

Dove’s previous work includes his airport comedy Flight (1998), which was one of the most successful operas of recent times; Man on the Moon for Channel 4 (2006) and The Enchanted Pig for the Young Vic (2006). He is firmly established as one of the world’s leading music theatre composers and The Adventures of Pinocchio follows hard on the heels of his operatic adaptation of Arthur Japin’s novel The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (October 2007) by Opera O.T and the Domestica Rotterdam Ensemble.

The cast includes the mezzo-soprano Victoria Simmonds, making her Opera North debut as Pinocchio. Victoria has previously sung Isolier in Le Comte Ory for Garsington Opera and Olga in Eugene Onegin for Opera Holland Park. Soprano Mary Plazas, whose most recent roles for the Company were Salud in La vida breve (2004) and Juanita in Arms and the Cow (2006), sings The Blue Fairy. The renowned baritone, Jonathan Summers, who sang the part of Rigoletto in Opera North’s production earlier this year, takes the role of Geppetto, Pinocchio's father.

Other principal roles include; Rebecca Bottone, who appeared in the Company’s semi-staged production of Hansel and Gretel at Leeds Town Hall and on tour whilst Leeds Grand Theatre was closed for refurbishment, singing the parts of the Cricket and the Parrot; James Laing, the Spirit in last season’s Dido and Aeneas and due to perform in the forthcoming A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the Fox; Mark Wilde, who has previously appeared in Opera North’s production of Saul as the Cat; Graham Broadbent, whose most recent performance for the Company was in Orfeo (2006) as the Puppeteer and Ape-Judge and Carole Wilson, last seen at Opera North as Mrs. Kramer in One Touch of Venus (2005), making a welcome return as the Pigeon and the Snail. Allan Clayton makes his Opera North debut as Lampwick, having sung this year with
the Britten Sinfonia and The Bach Choir at the Royal Albert Hall, amongst others.

The Adventures of Pinocchio
is directed by Martin Duncan, whose recent work for Opera North includes The Nightingale’s to Blame (1999), The Thieving Magpie (2005) and the forthcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. David Parry (except 24, 26 January; 8, 29 February; 7 March) will conduct. David has been instrumental in nurturing the partnership between Jonathan Dove and Opera North for this piece and he is one of the Company’s regular guest conductors. Anthony Kraus will conduct performances on 24, 26 January; 8, 29 February; 7 March. Sets and costumes are designed by Francis O’Connor, who has previously designed Manon for Opera North. The lighting designer is Davy Cunningham and movement is by Nick Winston. The opera is sung in English.

The Adventures of Pinocchio
is commissioned by Opera North with Sadler’s Wells Theatre and Chemnitz Opera. The production is co-produced with Chemnitz Opera. Supported by The PRS Foundation, The Leche Trust, The Lynn Foundation, The John S Cohen Foundation, The RVW Trust and the Opera North Fund. The production is co-sponsored by Yorkshire Bank and Sutcliffe Play.

Performances start at 7.15pm unless otherwise stated:
Leeds Grand Theatre - 21, 22 (2pm & 7.15pm), 27, 29 (2pm & 7.15pm) December 2007, 24, 26 January 2008
Theatre Royal, Nottingham - 8, 9 (6pm) February 2008
The Lowry, Salford Quays - 15, 16 (6pm) February 2008
Grand Opera House, Belfast - 22, 23 (6pm) February 2008
Sadler's Wells, London - 27, 29 February; 1 March 2008 (2.30pm & 7.30 pm)
Theatre Royal, Newcastle - 7, 8 (6pm) March 2008




Madama Butterfly

Tim Albery directs a strong cast of singers whose acting talents match their vocal strengths in this critically acclaimed production which premiered in Leeds in September. Tim’s recent work for the Opera North includes One Touch of Venus (2004), Katya Kabanova (2007) and The Fortunes of King Croesus (2007) and he will direct the forthcoming production of Macbeth in 2008.

Puccini’s tragic heroine, Cio-Cio-San, is sung by the young French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels, who sang Violetta in Opera North’s 2005 production of La traviata. Ann Taylor takes the role of  Cio-Cio-San’s devoted servant Suzuki, having recently sung Messagiera / Proserpina in Orfeo (2007).

Rafael Rojas, who sang the Duke in last season’s Rigoletto takes the role of Cio-Cio-San’s American lover, Pinkerton. Peter Savidge, who enjoyed great success as Dr. Dulcamara in The Elixir of Love (2007) sings the role of Sharpless. Alasdair Elliott, one of Europe’s leading character tenors, sings the role of Goro and Jonathan May sings the role of the Bonze. The young South African soprano Amanda Echalaz takes the role of Kate Pinkerton.

Tim Albery renews his successful Scottish Opera Ring Cycle partnership with set designer Hildegard Bechtler and costume designer Ana Jebens. The conductor is Martin Pickard (except on 4 and 6 March when Gareth Hancock will conduct the performances). Madama Butterfly is sung in Italian with English titles.

Performances start at 7.15pm:
Leeds Grand Theatre - 5, 12, 16, 18, 22 January 2008
Theatre Royal, Nottingham - 5, 7 February
The Lowry, Salford Quays - 12, 14 February
Grand Opera House, Belfast - 19, 21 February 2008
Theatre Royal, Newcastle - 4, 6 March 2008

Peter Grimes : Benjamin Britten

Winner of the South Bank Show Award for Opera, the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Opera and Music Theatre and a TMA award for achievement in Opera, Phyllida Lloyd’s outstanding production of Britten’s Peter Grimes achieved unprecedented critical and public acclaim when it premiered in October 2006. Due to an overwhelming response the Company has quickly reassembled the same artistic forces to bring back this thrilling landmark production.

The Welsh tenor Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, reprises his searing performance of the title role. Following his success as Peter Grimes, Jeffrey has gone on to make his Royal Opera House debut in Gianni Schicchi conducted by Antonio Pappano and directed by Richard Jones. Soprano Giselle Allen returns to the role of Ellen Orford, having sung the title role in Jan
áček’s Katya Kabanova for Opera North in Spring 2007 (except for 5 March when Rachel Hynes will sing the role).

Christopher Purves returns as the sailor Captain Balstrode for the performances in Leeds. The role is taken by Jonathan Summers on tour except for 5 March when Andrew Rupp will make his Opera North debut. Returning to the production are Alan Oke as the Methodist fisherman Bob Boles, Richard Angas as the lawyer Swallow, Ethna Robinson as the widow Mrs Sedley and Roderick Williams as the apothecary Ned Keene (except 28 February when Paul Gibson will sing the part). The two nieces are sung once more by Amy Freston and Claire Booth.

Set and costume designs are by Anthony Ward, lighting designs by Paule Constable and choreography by Kate Flatt. Opera North's critically acclaimed Music Director, Richard Farnes conducts (except 13 February and 5 March when James Holmes will take up the baton).The production is sung in English.

Peter Grimes
is supported by the Friends of Opera North.

Performances begin at 7.15pm:
Leeds Grand Theatre - 17, 19, 23, 25 January 2008
Theatre Royal, Nottingham - 6 February
The Lowry, Salford Quays - 13 February
Grand Opera House, Belfast - 20 February
Sadler's Wells, London - 26, 28 February
Theatre Royal, Newcastle - 5 March

Bill Kenny

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