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More Pleasure at Opera North due to popular demand

With two nights already sold out, Opera North have scheduled another performance of their new chamber opera, Pleasure, created by the young composer Mark Simpson and writer Melanie Challenger with Lesley Garrett in the lead role.

The extra date, at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds on Saturday 30 April, will follow two sold out performances at the venue including the world premiere on Thursday 28 April.

A family tragedy played out against the backdrop of a gay nightclub, Pleasure is the fourth new opera commissioned and produced as part of a three-year partnership between Aldeburgh Music, The Royal Opera and Opera North, designed to boost opportunities for emerging opera writers, and bring new work to audiences across the UK. Following its Leeds run it will tour to Liverpool, Aldeburgh and London.

The opera tells the story of Val, who works as an attendant in the toilets in ‘Pleasure,’ a hedonistic gay club in the north of England, presided over by the drag queen Anna Fewmore. For years, Val has been both a shoulder to cry on and a confidante. She is much-loved, but viewed as an enigma. Why is she still there? Why does she never leave? When Nathan, a beautiful and unpredictable young man, arrives in Pleasure and leaves a gift for Val, it marks the beginning of an emotional and violent night.

Tim Albery directs, with set and costume designs by Leslie Travers; a creative pairing whose previous work together has included award-winning productions of Otello and Giulio Cesare at Opera North, and Aldeburgh Music’s open-air staging of Grimes on the Beach, marking Benjamin Britten’s centenary in 2013. Tim Albery has also directed numerous productions at The Royal Opera, including Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser.

Pleasure will be performed by a cast of four singers including soprano Lesley Garrett as Val, alongside the Manchester-based music ensemble Psappha, conducted by Nicholas Kok. The cast is completed by baritone Timothy Nelson as Nathan, tenor Nick Pritchard as Matthew, and baritone Steven Page as Anna Fewmore.

One of the UK’s most exciting young musical talents, Mark Simpson was born in Liverpool in 1988. He won BBC Young Musician of the Year as a clarinetist in 2006 and also, that same year, received the accolade of BBC Young Composer of the Year – the only individual to have won both competitions. He is Composer in Association with the BBC Philharmonic.

Pleasure sees Simpson turn to opera for the first time, collaborating once again with librettist Melanie Challenger. Highly sought after and admired by peers, critics and audiences alike, Challenger’s stunning achievements in poetry and prose include the award-winning non-fiction book On Extinction. The duo recently received critical praise for their contribution to the 2015 Manchester International Festival, The Immortal, which was performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

The world premiere of Pleasure will be at the Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds in April 2016, before the production tours to the Liverpool Playhouse, the Britten Studio at Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings, and the Lyric Hammersmith in London.

By Mark Simpson
Libretto by Melanie Challenger

Sung in English | Approx 80 mins


Cast and creative team:

Val                                         Lesley Garrett
Nathan                                  Timothy Nelson

Matthew                                 Nick Pritchard
Anna Fewmore                      Steven Page

Conductor                              Nicholas Kok
Director                                  Tim Albery
Set and Costume Designer    Leslie Travers
Lighting Designer                    Malcolm Rippeth

Ensemble                                 Psappha


The new opera commissioning collaboration between Aldeburgh Music, Opera North and The Royal Opera is supported by a legacy from Ms D. Kurzman via Arts Council England.

Generously supported in Leeds by the Opera North Future Fund, The Emerald Foundation and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation


Dates of Performances:

Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds

Thu 28 Apr 2016 7.45pm WORLD PREMIERE (press night) SOLD OUT
Fri 29 Apr 2016 7.45pm SOLD OUT
Sat 30 Apr 2016 7.45pm
Tickets: £15. Concessions available. On sale now.


Opera North - Pleasure