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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Preview: Opera North at Newcastle Theatre Royal



MAGIC AND MISCHIEF: A SEASON OF DELICIOUSLY DARK FAIRY TALES

Opera North presents:
The Snow Maiden
Hansel and Gretel
Cinderella
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Wednesday 1st - Saturday 4th March 2017 

Opera North comes to Newcastle Theatre Royal this Spring with a magical triple bill celebrating the timeless appeal of classic fairy tales with three brand new productions:  Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarely-performed The Snow Maiden, Humperdinck’s much-loved Hansel and Gretel and Rossini’s captivating Cinderella.

Opera North’s production of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (2017)
Elin Pritchard as Kupava with the Chorus of Opera North
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
The operatic version of the charming Russian folk story, The Snow Maiden, sees the daughter of Grandfather Frost and Spring Beauty, the young Snow Maiden, sung by Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly, want nothing more than to live amongst humans, after meeting a shepherd boy, Lel (Heather Lowe). But she hides a tragic secret: her heart is made of ice and, if she falls in love, it will melt.

Opera North’s production of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (2017)
Elin Pritchard as Kupava
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
Director John Fulljames has reworked The Snow Maiden’s classic storyline in a contemporary setting, blending the boundaries between reality and fantasy. The opera, a Russian favourite, which is being professionally staged for the first time in over 60 years in the UK, features some of Rimsky-Korsakov’s most lyrical music, including the ‘Chorus of the Birds’, and the ‘Dance of the Clowns’.

Opera North’s production of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (2017)
Aoife Miskelly as Snow Maiden and Heather Lowe as Lel
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
Hansel and Gretel is perhaps the best-loved of all the operatic fairy tales but there’s a dark twist to this story of two children lost in the woods. The music magically evokes the contrasting worlds of the story, from the daily struggle for survival of an impoverished family, to the world of the forest, both idyllic and full of danger; home to the terrifying Witch and her tempting gingerbread house.

Opera North’s production of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (2017)
Heather Lowe as Lel and Elin Pritchard as Kupava
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
From a poor home in which hunger is an ever-present threat, brother and sister escape to the world of the forest. There, they encounter supernatural forces both good and evil, from the benevolent Sandman to the terrifying Witch, as this contemporary take on a classic story reveals the perils of growing up.

Opera North’s production of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (2017)
Aoife Miskelly as Snow Maiden and Phillip Rhodes as Mizgir
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
In director Edward Dick’s new production, the action on stage includes hand-held cameras and live video; set against this modern technology is Humperdinck’s charming and melodic music, including the dizzying excitement of the ‘Witch’s Ride’ and the serene beauty of the children’s ‘Evening Prayer’. This production features one of Britain’s leading dramatic sopranos, Susan Bullock CBE, in the dual role of the Witch and the children’s mother, alongside Katie Bray as Hansel and Fflur Wyn – who appeared at Newcastle Theatre Royal in November 2016 as Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier- as Gretel.

Opera North’s production of
Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden (2017)
Yvonne Howard as Spring Beauty, Aoife Miskelly as
Snow Maiden and the Chorus of Opera North
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith
The third opera in the fairy tale season strikes a romantic note with Rossini’s sparkling comedy Cinderella(La Cenerentola). Dance is woven into the very fabric of the music, and this contemporary new production opens with Cinderella scrubbing the floor of a ballroom dance school. In Rossini’s work, it is music rather than magic that transforms Cinderella into a princess and enables her to deftly outwit her step-father Don Magnifico – played by Henry Waddington who returns to Newcastle Theatre Royal following his recent appearance in Der Rosenkavalier - and two cruel step-sisters.

This fresh, witty take on the Cinderellastory is directed by multi-talented director and choreographer Aletta Collins, with two young international stars taking the lead roles. Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta is Cinderella, and fast-rising South African tenor Sunnyboy Dladla is her prince, Don Ramiro.

The three fairy-tale productions will share basic elements of a highly adaptable set, designed by Giles Cadle, with the inventive use of video bringing the themes of transformation and magic to the forefront. From live video captured on-stage in real time in Hansel and Gretel, folk-influenced dreamscapes in The Snow Maiden, or a riot of colour and invention in Cinderella, the use of video will enable each of the fairytales to further blur the lines between reality and fantasy.

Opera North has also announced its forthcoming Autumn season - The Little Greats: Six short operas with huge emotions will be a festival of one-act operas and plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Wednesday 8thSaturday 11th November 2017.
Tickets:
Hansel and Gretel appears at Newcastle Theatre Royal Wed 1 & Sat 4 Mar at 7.00pm, Cinderella on Thu 2 Mar at 7pm and Sat 4 Mar at 2.00pm and The Snow Maiden for one performance only on Fri 3 Mar at 7.00pm.  Tickets are available from £18.50 can be purchased online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or 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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