FROM PASSION AND PISTOLS TO
AMBITION AND DESPAIR
Opera North returns to the Theatre Royal, Newcastle this March with the Company’s first productions of 2014, featuring a long-awaited and critically acclaimed new production of Puccini’s thrilling opera of the American West, The Girl of the Golden West.
Dubbed ‘the original Spaghetti Western,’ The Girl of the Golden West is a story of true love and second chances, set in a tough mining camp during the California Gold Rush. Puccini’s melodic gift and rich orchestral score is a perfect match for the love triangle between Dick Johnson, also known as the bandit Ramerrez, the embittered Sheriff Jack Rance, and Minnie, the Girl of the title, who runs the Polka saloon.
The intensely lyrical and human score reflects the maturity of Puccini’s characters, experienced in life yet unhardened by it. Filled with delicately poignant moments, this opera presents a dramatic and stunningly beautiful love story, featuring powerful performances from Lancastrian soprano Alwyn Mellor, as Minnie, Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas as Ramerrez, and baritone Robert Hayward as Jack Rance.
Conducted by Opera North’s music director, Richard Farnes, this new production is directed by Aletta Collins, who returns to the Company following the success of her double-bill ofLa voix humaine and Dido and Aeneas which visited the Theatre Royal last year.
Joining The Girl of the Golden West this March is director Tim Albery's gripping production of Macbeth, which returns to the Company following the huge success of Albery’s Otelloin Winter 2013. This excitingly dramatic, modern-dress production depicts the vivid world of the supernatural through the “bleak and elegantly styled” design of Johan Engels.
Seduced by a dark prophecy and goaded by his wife, the warrior Macbeth becomes consumed by ambition. Having murdered the king, he discovers that to keep power, more and more blood must be spilt. Verdi described Shakespeare's play as 'one of mankind's greatest creations,' and filled his opera with music of extravagance and true originality, of which the famous chorus of Scottish refugees, “Patria oppressa!,” is just one of the many highlights.
The Hungarian baritone Béla Perencz, who regularly performs with the Hungarian State Opera, returns to Opera North to sing Macbeth after his critically acclaimed performance as Wotan in Die Walküre last year.
American soprano Kelly Cae Hogan will take on the role of Lady Macbeth having flown in at extremely short notice to sing Brünnhilde for the first two performances of Die Walkure.Kelly works extensively in Europe and the US, and her roles include Blanche Du Bois in A Streetcar named Desire for Norfolk (2013), Leonore in Fidelio (2012) for Kassel and the title role in both Norma (2012) in Bonn and Salome in Phoenix (2009).
Opera North completes this visit to the Theatre Royal with a charming journey through the music of the renowned ‘City of Romance’ in From Paris with Love.
This special theatrical concert explores the music that helped create the iconic images of Paris as the most romantic city in the world, and the heart of all things bohemian. Leading soloists Jeni Bern, Peter Auty, Geoffrey Dolton and Gabriela Iştoc join forces with the ladies of the Chorus of Opera North to delve into sparkling classical favourites which capture the timeless character of Paris, including 'Musetta's Waltz' from Puccini's La Bohème and arias and duets by Massenet and Charpentier.
Leaving the glamour of the French opera, the evening turns to the intimate cabarets and bustling cafés of Montmartre, infused with cigarette smoke and with the songs of love and heartbreak popularised by Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. James Holmes leads the on-stage café band and soloists in songs including La vie en rose, L'accordeoniste, and Paris, tu na's pas change. The programme ends in the seductive underworld of the Moulin Rouge, with Offenbach's 'Galop Infernal' - better known as the music from the ‘Can-Can.’
Soprano Jeni Bern returns to Opera North after singing the roles of Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013) and Musetta in La Bohème (2010). Romanian soprano Gabriela Iştoc performs with Opera North for the first time, ahead of taking the role of Mimi in the Company's upcoming production of La Bohème (2014).
Tenor Peter Auty has made recent appearances with Opera North in two of the most famous of French operas, as Don José in Bizet’s Carmen (2011), and in the title role in Gounod’sFaust (2012), while baritone Geoffrey Dolton is also a familiar face to Opera North audiences. His previous roles include Baron Zeta in Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow(2010) and Starveling in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013).
Richard Mantle, Opera North’s general director commented: “Not since the mid-1980s have Opera North audiences had the opportunity to revel in the exhilarating score Puccini created for the rip-roaring tale of The Girl of the Golden West, for which we are delighted to welcome back Aletta Collins, one of the most imaginative young British directors working in theatres today. For Tim Albery’s gripping production of Macbeth the central roles will be performed by Béla Perencz and Kelly Cae Hogan as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively, who gave sensational performances as Wotan and Brünnhilde in our Die Walküre last year. We also look forward to whisking our audiences off to the quintessential city of romance in our musical love letter to all things bohemian – From Paris with Love: Puccini to Piaf.”
Opera North are at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 11 March until Saturday 15 March. Tickets are available from £15 (a booking fee of 95p - £1.95 will apply to most tickets) and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk