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Preview: Opera North at Newcastle Theatre Royal


Opera North
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Wednesday 2nd- Saturday 5th November 2016

Der Rosenkavalier - Wednesday 2th & Saturday 5th November 2016 
Billy Budd - Thursday 3rd November 2016
Il tabarro / Suor Angelica double bill - Friday 4th November 2016

Opera North comes to Newcastle Theatre Royal this Autumn with an intensely powerful triple bill featuring a revival of Strauss’s comic masterpiece Der Rosenkavalier and a new production of Britten’s rarely performed masterpiece, Billy Buddbefore heading into darker territory with two of Puccini’s compelling one-act operas, Il tabarro and Suor Angelica.

Der Rosenkavalier pits the intensity and eagerness of romantic young love against the wisdom of age and experience. In this critically-acclaimed production, the action is played out in a richly imagined period setting which perfectly complements Strauss’s exquisite score. Conducting will be Aleksandar Markovic, who appears for the first time in his new role as Opera North’s Music Director.

Perfectly poised between comedy and pathos, Strauss’s opera contrasts the impulsive young love of Octavian and Sophie with the Marschallin’s acknowledgement of the relentless passage of time. Although fearful that the 17-year-old Octavian will leave her for a younger woman, it is the Marschallin who orchestrates the first meeting between her lover and the beautiful Sophie – with inevitable consequences.

A correspondingly intense exploration of love and its many manifestations can be found in Puccini’s Il tabarro and Suor Angelica. Originally seen as part of Opera North’s award-winning ‘Eight Little Greats’ season, Il tabarrotracks the rapid disintegration of a marriage into violence and despair as a chance sighting sets in action a sequence of disturbing events. It is left to the second offering in the double-bill, Michael Barker-Caven’s new production of Suor Angelica, to offer a glimpse of hope and redemption.

Il tabarro is a noir-ish thriller which develops at a frightening pace. It is Paris 1912 and we are in the poverty-stricken world of the city’s stevedores watching as Michele, a barge-owner, starts to question whether his wife is being unfaithful to him. What follows is an intense exploration of betrayal and despair as Michele, consumed by jealousy, takes revenge for Giorgetta’s infidelity in an unexpectedly violent act, shocking in both its suddenness and brutality.

Although there is darkness at the heart of Suor Angelica, there is also light. The ending is suffused with redemptive beauty and features one of his greatest, and most moving, soprano arias, ‘Senza Mamma’.

Angelica has been confined to a convent by her wealthy family as punishment for giving birth to an illegitimate son. After seven years with no word, she is visited by her aunt – a princess – who tells her that the child died years ago, news which plunges Angelica into suicidal despair.

Equally thought-provoking in its exploration of human weakness is Britten’s Billy Budd, brought back to the Opera North stage for the first time in over twenty years in a brand new production. A tale of distrust and betrayal set on a naval ship, Britten’s haunting opera provides a penetrating insight into innocence versus evil and the corrosive nature of power.

Based on a Herman Melville novel, with text adapted for the opera stage by the novelist E.M. Forster, it tells the tale of Billy, a young sailor on HMS Indomitable whose beauty and goodness provoke the destructive envy of the ship’s Master at Arms, Claggart. The one man who has it in his power to save Billy is Captain Vere, but he fails to do so - a decision which is set to haunt him for the rest of his life.

A world-class cast includes the welcome return of some of Opera North’s best-loved performers; Swedish soprano Ylva Kihlberg sings the bittersweet part of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She is joined by the Australian mezzo Helen Sherman as Octavian, Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn as Sophie and Henry Waddington as Baron Ochs. 
The dynamic cast for Il tabarro includes Giselle Allen as Giorgetta, Luigi is sung by David Butt Philip and making his UK debut as Michele is Italian baritone Ivan Inverardi, a regular performer in many of Europe’s biggest opera houses.

French soprano Anne Sophie Duprels takes the title role in Suor Angelica with Irish mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon as the Principessa and Soraya Mafi making her Company debut as Suor Genoveva.

Billy Budd brings together the powerful forces of the Opera North men’s chorus including baritone Roderick Williams, in his role debut as Billy Budd.  Leading tenor Alan Oke takes the role of Captain Vere and the ever-versatile bass Alastair Miles performs as the darkly envious John Claggart, the Master of Arms who helps seal Billy’s fate and most recently seen by Theatre Royal audiences in The Barber of Seville.

Opera North has also announced forthcoming productions of Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella and The Snow Maiden at Newcastle Theatre Royal in March 2017. 

Der Rosenkavalier appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal Wednesday 2th & Saturday 5th November 2016 at 6.30pm, Billy Budd for one performance only on Thursday 3rd November at 7pm and Il tabarro / Suor Angelica double bill on Friday 4th November at 7pm.  Tickets are available from £18.50 can be purchased online at from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (Calls cost 7ppm plus your phone company’s access charge).

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