COVID-19 has caused devastation throughout the industry. Live performances are still now allowed and there’s no real end in sight either.
As a result of this, Opera North has announced the postponement of all of its main productions due to tour in 2020 and early 2021. This includes all productions previously planned for Autumn 2020: La traviata, Jack the Ripper, and Trouble in Tahiti / West Side Story Symphonic Dances (in association with Phoenix Dance Theatre). It also includes the Winter 2021 season: Carmen, Alcina, and The Girl of the Golden West. Don’t worry, though, as these productions will be rescheduled throughout the next few years.
In place of mainstage live productions, a new season of artistic activity is being scheduled. This includes a range of live musical and operatic performances (respecting government guidelines) as well as innovative digital events. For example, there’ll be an interactive soundwalk in Leeds, with a new score commissioned for a journey through the city. Audiences will be given a set of headphones connected to a wireless receiver, triggering different musical chapters along their journey through Leeds. This gives individuals chance to experience the cityscape through a new musical viewpoint.
For those missing live theatre, Opera North is currently working on an alternative plan for its Winter season, that adheres to social distancing for audiences, performers and staff.
A statement from Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North: “We have continued to monitor the UK Government’s advice on social gatherings and the guidelines applicable to performing companies, theatres and public venues. It is now evident that it is no longer possible for Opera North to produce, rehearse and tour these large-scale productions as originally planned. We have been in close discussion with Leeds Grand Theatre and our partner touring venues, and it is increasingly unlikely that any of these theatres can remain open to enable large-scale productions to happen. While we are very disappointed to have to postpone these productions, the continued safety and wellbeing of our audience, performers and staff is our highest priority. We continue to work closely with our venues and colleagues within the theatre and music industry to see how we can rehearse and perform with safety, so that we can return to live performance of great opera and music as soon as possible.
“Rehearsals for our Autumn season were due to begin later this month, with technical deadlines for designing and building sets, costumes and other production elements for the Winter season also fast approaching. We do not believe it is prudent under current economic circumstances to continue production work on these titles for this year, given the unavoidable reduction in box office revenue, the uncertainty around theatres reopening, and the scale and cost of a production such as Carmen, which involves more than 100 performers, as well as creative and technical staff.
“We remain committed to making live music and creating extraordinary experiences, every day, for and with the communities we serve. Live or digitally, in classrooms, theatres, concert halls, homes and public spaces; we will continue to share music with people of all ages and backgrounds. As part of this commitment, we are pleased today to announce a new soundwalk for Leeds, as one initial part of our new plan for this Autumn.”
Photograph credited to Alastair Muir