Opera North’s new season is dominated by adaptations of Shakespeare, with no fewer than five productions of operas based on the bard. Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi won’t hit the repertoire until autumn 2008 but, before then, audiences can experience Verdi, Britten and Gounod’s versions of Falstaff and Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Roméo et Juliette respectively. It doesn’t quite rival the RSC’s mammoth Complete Works Festival at Stratford but it’s as near as we can expect in the opera world.
There are four other works a new production of Madama Butterfly, a revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s spectacularly successful Peter Grimes, the fascinating sounding The Fortunes of King Croesus by Reinhard Keiser and the World Premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio.
To my mind, that’s a pretty exciting line-up. It’s unfortunate that the Government’s understandable reluctance to commit funding (because they don’t know exactly how much they will end up squandering on the Olympics) means that, like all arts organisations at the moment, the company cannot plan long-term. Given this financial uncertainty, the decision to produce six new productions is, therefore, a bold one.
Keiser’s The Fortunes of King Croesus, a co-production with Minnesota Opera, is an example of German Baroque opera, the composer hailed as an important influence on Handel. First produced in 1730, it was billed as “A true story of the inconstancy of earthly glory and riches” and we are promised rich orchestrations and gorgeous melodies, under the baton of Harry Bicket.
Opera North will open the season in September at its newly-refurbished home, Leeds Grand Theatre, and will tour to its regular venues: Theatre Royal, Nottingham; Lowry, Salford; Theatre Royal, Newcastle and Grand Opera House, Belfast.
London audiences will get the chance to see Peter Grimes (pictured) and The Adventures of Pinocchio at Sadler’s Wells in February, but will have to travel further afield if they want to see the Keiser.
In the meantime, the Spring season continues with Katya Kabanova, Dido & Aeneas/Les Noces, Rigoletto and The Magic Flute.