Working with The Lowry: Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North

As the national opera company in the North of England, Opera North has been delighted to be able to perform regularly at The Lowry ever since the venue opened, bringing opera to audiences in the North West. Although the Company’s base is over the Pennines in Yorkshire, being a partner organisation of The Lowry is a relationship that enables us to present almost all of our mainstage operas in our ‘other’ home in Salford – and over the years, we have seen a great many new audience members attend our performances.

This March, we will be performing works by two of the greatest Italian composers of opera, Verdi and Puccini. Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West (5 and 7 March) was his follow-up to Madama Butterfly, set in California during the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century. Described by the film historian Christopher Frayling as ‘the first Spaghetti Western worthy of the name,’ it’s a terrific piece, brimming with memorable melodies. What’s more, in Minnie it has a heroine who is no meek victim; rough gold-miners, bandits and a randy sheriff don’t faze her, and she can handle a gun as well as she can handle her men.

No-one could accuse the heroine – if that’s quite the right term – of Verdi’s Shakesperean masterpiece Macbeth (6 and 8 March) of meekness either. Indeed, Lady Macbeth’s part in the tragedy looms even larger in the opera than in the play, and she sings some of Verdi’s most memorable and atmospheric music, as do the chorus of Witches who take such a prominent role.

From 14 to 17 May, we present La Bohème, an ideal first production for newcomers to Opera North to see, but one which also bears rich rewards for audiences who are already familiar with the work. Director Phyllida Lloyd has updated the setting to the late 1950s – a time when art, music and philosophy reigned in Paris. We are delighted to have a cast of young rising stars to bring alive the energy and drama of Puccini’s most passionate love story, giving full expression to the joy, wit and frivolity of student life.

Then on Saturday 5 July, we come to the end of what is perhaps the most epic operatic journey of them all, when we complete our four-year cycle of Wagner’s Ring with Götterdämmerung. Following the huge success of the previous three operas in the cycle, seen at The Lowry from 2011 to 2013, this will be a thrilling climax to our current season. Watch this space to find out what Opera North will be bringing to The Lowry next!

Richard Mantle
General Director, Opera North

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