This is a wonderful chance to see Opera North in its 40th-anniversary year, playing to all its strengths. At the core of the programme are three early 20th-century works. Janáček’s tragic Káťa Kabanová appears alongside an unusual double bill, which unites Stravinsky’s revolutionary ballet, The Rite of Spring, with Puccini’s short comic opera Gianni Schicchi. We will also be treated to a brand new production of Mozart’s fairy-tale The Magic Flute, directed by James Brining of the Leeds Playhouse. England’s national opera in the North performs in Leeds Grand Theatre – a splendid Victorian theatre which has a perfect size and acoustic for opera. The venue adds to the sense of occasion.
The trip begins at our hotel at 4pm, with our first lecture, followed by an early dinner together. The evening’s opera, Káťa Kabanová, tells a tragic story of misdirected passion in claustrophobic small-town society, and draws on Janáček’s own unrequited love for the married woman, Kamila Stösslová.
Central Leeds contains several fine examples of Victorian civic architecture: notably the Corn Exchange, the Town Hall and Kirkgate Market. After a morning lecture, we explore the city’s architectural heritage on a walking tour. A free afternoon offers the chance to visit Leeds City Art Gallery – home to one of the UK’s most important collections of 20th-century British painting and sculpture (works by Moore, Hepworth, Bacon, Epstein and Rego et al.). In the evening, our second opera is The Magic Flute.
A morning excursion to Temple Newsam. The Tudor-Jacobean mansion sits in 1,000 acres of rolling parkland on the eastern edge of the city. Notable interiors include the 18th-century picture gallery and the 19th-century Chinese drawing room. Our final performance at The Grand is a double bill: the scandalous Rite of Spring – first performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris in 1913 – followed by Puccini’s sardonic tale of greed and inheritance, Gianni Schicchi.
The trip ends at the hotel after breakfast.
Dr John Allison
John realised he enjoyed writing about music as much as performing it while studying for his PhD at the University of Cape Town. Now, he is the editor of Opera magazine and music critic for the Daily Telegraph. In the course of his career he’s interviewed composer Elliott Carter, tenor Luciano Pavarotti and pop star Sting, as well as publishing two books, The Pocket Companion to Opera and Edward Elgar: Sacred Music.
£985 per person sharing in a double room.
£1,175 for one person in a double room.
The price includes the speaker and a tour manager, accommodation with daily breakfasts, one dinner with wine, category B opera tickets, transport by private coach, admissions to sites as mentioned in the itinerary.
Please note trains or flights are not included.
Leeds Marriott Hotel (4 stars).
The tours of central Leeds and Temple Newsam require a fair degree of fitness. We also walk to and from the opera each night.
Between 5 and 25 participants.