As mists gather, fruit mellows and the clocks go back, Autumn is with us. Along with seasonal affective disorder, dank mornings and dreichit days, it’s a season associated with depression when all the leaves are brown and the skies are grey.

I think if you could stare into the mind of José Mourinho, it’s probably what Autumn looks like, although a bleak Russian winter can’t be too far off. Well, I’m here to announce that while I can’t guarantee that happy days are here again, the good news is that it’s the beginning of the Autumn opera season, and a cracking season it promises to be.

While it’s been an axe-wielding summer of the Manchester International Festival in the North West, opera has been in very short supply. My only fix has been Radio 3 and Kara McKechnie’s excellent history of Opera North to keep my opera cold turkey at bay. So it is with great anticipation that we at OperaWatch (the 100s of researchers, runners, producers and ‘talent’) can announce the return of Opera North to The Lowry as well as other gems and some new exciting developments.

Jenůfa The fabulous Leeds-based Opera North kicks off its new season with Rossini’s Barber of Seville which is sure to be full of Spanish sunshine and fun to lighten the mood. Giles Havergal’s “handsome” production stars Katie Bray as Rosina, Nicholas Watts as The Count, Gava Ring as Figaro and Alastair Miles as Bartolo. It is followed by the dark and brooding Jenůfa by Leos Janacek with Ylva Kihlberg in the title role and conducted by Aleksander Markovic.

The season closes with a barnstorming performance of Cole Porter’s Kiss me, Kate. While it’s not strictly opera, Opera North has taken on popular musicals in the past with great success. This production is directed by Jo Davies who also directed Carousel and has received high praise and five-star reviews from its outing in Leeds in October. I love Opera North and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.

Look out for the company’s outreach programme to “increase accessibility for people who might otherwise be intimidated by opera”. Special one-hour interactive workshops are available for adults and separately for college and school students (see Opera North and The Lowry websites for details).

The ever reliable and always enjoyable Royal Northern College of Music will try its hand at Kurt Weill in December with a lively performance of his “Broadway opera”, Street Scene. Stefan Janski directs this mixture of arias, jazz, blues and show tunes in a politically charged portrait of life in New York after the war. Jenůfa

Finally, a new venture at HOME sees the venue screening live opera performances direct from the Royal Opera House, London and the Metropolitan Opera, New York. I’m booked into see the Met’s production of Alban Berg’s Lulu. You know it makes me wanna shout!

All at OperaWatch can’t wait for an Autumn packed full of great productions, and reviews of all the performances mentioned will flow from the pens of the army of critics hungry for work after a slim summer. I hope it manages to cheer the increasingly glum José who, no doubt, will be managing Chester FC by Christmas.

By Robert Hamilton


Performance details in Manchester and Salford:

LuluThe Barber of Seville, The Lowry,  November 10 and November 12, 7.15 pm

Jenufa, The Lowry, November 11, 7.15pm

Kiss me, Kate, The Lowry, November 13, 7.15pm and November 14, 2.15pm and 7.15pm

Street Scene, Royal Northern College of Music, December 2 -12, all performances 7.30pm except December 6, 3.00pm

Lulu, HOME, November 21, 5.15pm


If you would like to be included in the next OperaWatch, send your links, blogs and press releases to who will pass them onto Robert Hamilton