Opera North’s long-awaited return to Hull New Theatre from Thursday 30 March promises memorable characters, compelling drama and incredible music, with Puccini’s devastating take on passion and power and Janáček’s bittersweet exploration of the cycle of life.
The season opens with Edward Dick’s thrilling production of Puccini’s Tosca, one of the most popular operas of all time, on Thursday 30 March (repeated on Saturday 1 April). The singer Tosca is the lover of Cavaradossi, an artist, but the corrupt Chief of Police, Scarpia, wants her for himself. The opportunity presents itself when Cavaradossi is arrested for helping an escaped political prisoner. Scarpia offers Tosca a stark choice: if she gives herself to him, he will let Cavaradossi go free. Sublime one moment and gut-wrenching the next, this gripping staging has the perfect pulse of a taut crime drama.
Robert Hayward offers a masterclass in malevolence as Scarpia, opposite Giselle Allen in the title role. Ukrainian tenor Mykhailo Malafii makes his Opera North debut as Cavaradossi, and Opera North Music Director Garry Walker conducts Puccini’s mesmerising score, which includes Tosca’s moving paean to art ‘Vissi d’arte’, Cavaradossi’s heart-wrenching farewell ‘E lucevan le stelle’, and the powerful hymn ‘Te deum’.
A very different look at life and loss follows with Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (Friday 31 March). Inspired by a comic strip in his local paper, the Czech composer brought his unique vision to this captivating tale of mischievous young Vixen Sharp-Ears who is captured by a Forester to become his family’s pet, but eventually manages to escape back into the wild to find love and a family of her own. By turns funny and profound, the opera features a host of colourful characters including hens, a dragonfly and a badger, and a playful score brimming with folk-infused melodies.
Originally a Scottish Opera/ Welsh National Opera co-production, Sir David Pountney’s interpretation of Janáček’s work is widely thought of as a classic. Andrew Gourlay conducts a cast of Opera North favourites including Elin Pritchard (Nedda, Pagliacci) who sings Vixen Sharp-Ears, Heather Lowe (Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro) as Fox, Callum Thorpe (Sparafucile, Rigoletto) as the Poacher and Paul Nilon (Yannakos, The Greek Passion) as the Schoolmaster. James Rutherford sings the role of the Forester.
The Cunning Little Vixen will also be performed as a schools’ matinee on Wednesday 29 March, giving upper KS2 and KS3 pupils the chance to experience a live orchestra and opera in the theatre, many for the first time. A learning pack linked to various subjects in the curriculum provides information and resources for teachers to use in the classroom before their visit, and schools have the option to attend an online interactive music and drama workshop to explore the score, plot and characters with a vocal animateur and drama practitioner from Opera North’s Education team.
For both mainstage operas at Hull New Theatre, full-time students and anyone aged 16-29 years old can take advantage of Opera North’s Under 30s scheme to watch a performance for just £10. Through the Try it ON scheme, newcomers to opera can also enjoy some of the best seats in the house with two tickets for just £20 each.
For more information and to book, visit hulltheatres.co.uk or contact the Box Office on 01482 300 306.