Opera North Live Streams from Leeds Town Hall

26th September 2020



Opera North will launch its innovative Switch ON programme in a special livestreamed concert from Leeds Town Hall at 7pm on Wednesday 30 September, presented by broadcaster, writer and presenter of BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, Suzy Klein.

Switch ON: Live from Leeds will be available to watch live and then on demand, via OperaVision and Opera North’s YouTube channels.

The Leeds-based national opera company has responded to the postponement of its Autumn and Winter mainstage operas with an ambitious new programme of live events and digital projects, embodying its commitment to make music with, and for, audiences in communities across the North of England.


The Orchestra of Opera North’s performance at Leeds Town Hall in the first pilot concert following lockdown was an emotional occasion, both for the musicians and anyone lucky enough to have got a ticket. Members of the ensemble and the Music Staff will return to the stage to perform the second movement from Dvořák’s String Quintet No. 2, and to accompany the Chorus and soloists including Fflur Wyn, Katie Bird, Tim Nelson, Nicholas Watts, Amy Freston and Elizabeth Llewellyn.

The concert will feature highlights from the current Switch ON programme and exclusive previews of upcoming events, with repertoire ranging from Handel, Beethoven and Puccini to excerpts from recent Opera North commissions by Jasdeep Singh Degun and Will Todd.


Jasdeep singh degun opera north
Opera North Orchestra Huddersfield


Katie Bird and Tim Nelson will perform Mimi and Marcello’s heartrending Act III duet from La bohème, looking forward to artist and filmmaker Matthew Robins’ animated paper-cut re-imagining of Act III of Puccini’s opera, which will be projected onto walls in towns and cities across the North of England in the run-up to Christmas in a new Opera North commission.

An excerpt from the film of Will Todd’s Song of Our Heartland will give a taste of the much-anticipated new community opera, reconstructed in digital form over recent months following the cancellation of its premiere in May.


The Orchestra’s tour of Arya, a sitar concerto commissioned by the Company from sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun, was also disrupted by the spread of the pandemic in March. Jasdeep returns to the ensemble to perform part of the work in a new chamber arrangement.

Written, directed and narrated by an Opera North regular, bass-baritone John Savournin, the Company’s condensed ‘Whistle Stop’ version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel has delighted socially distant audiences on an open-air tour across the North this summer. The final date, at St Augustine’s Community Centre, Halifax, was performed for an audience of refugees and asylum seekers, and a short filmed extract will be shown as part of the programme.Artists and creatives including MC and theatre-maker Andy ‘Testament’ Brooks and director Aletta Collins will give their insights into Opera North’s Connecting Voices collaboration with Leeds Playhouse, which will reopen the venue in October.


Tenor and former Opera North Chorister Nicholas Watts’ outstanding performance as Peter Quint in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw was enjoyed by thousands more online after Opera North’s Winter tour was cut short by lockdown. He will join Head of Music David Cowan at the piano for a song from Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin.


Specialising in Italian repertoire and renowned for her richness of tone and exceptional dramatic abilities, soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn last performed with the Company as Eigen in the Orchestra of Opera North’s celebrated recording of Elgar’s Caractacus under Martyn Brabbins. She returns, direct from the role of Mimì in Scottish Opera’s socially distant La bohème, to lead the Chorus of Opera North in the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana to close the evening.

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, comments:“With our determination to return to the stage tempered by our concern for the safety of our audiences and company members, in recent weeks we were delighted to have been one of the first companies in the UK to get back to performing live.


“Now underway, the Switch ON programme continues Opera North’s commitment to share music and performance with audiences in villages, towns and cities across the North of England. To launch the next stage, we are excited to bring our ensembles back together with old friends and new collaborators in Leeds Town Hall, a venue that shares a long and happy history with the Company. The livestream will continue our pioneering partnership with OperaVision, taking our work beyond the opera house to the widest possible audience around the world, and we’re looking forward to having Suzy Klein join us as presenter.


“We remain committed to our purpose, and whatever challenges we face, Opera North will continue to use music to create extraordinary experiences every day for and with the communities we serve. Live or digitally, in classrooms, theatres, homes and public spaces; we will continue to share music with people of all ages and backgrounds.”


Opera North’s Switch ON: Live from Leeds can be streamed live via OperaVision and the Company’s YouTube channel at 7pm on Wednesday 30 September.