As you may or may not know I have been given a battlefield promotion from Opera Critic to Opera Correspondent for my outstanding service to the understanding of opera in the North. While I await my OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List, I’m still plagued by the sound of Captain Mainwaring whispering ‘stupid boy’ in my ear in acknowledgement of my true abilities in this illustrious endeavour.

In pursuance of ever-greater heights here at Northern Soul, I will be providing readers with previews of up and coming operatic events in the area as part of my new responsibilities.

And what better way to begin that the announcement of the new Autumn season of operas by Opera North at The Lowry in Salford. Opera North continues to hit new heights with every production I have the pleasure to see and I’m sure this season will be as exciting. The season opens on Novermber 18, with the revival of Bedrich Smetana’s The Bartered Bride (1866). Under Daniel Slater’s direction, the story has been updated to the Prague Spring of 1968 and includes a circus. Opera and circuses! Maybe the Romans got it wrong and their empire would have survived as it is a well known fact that Visigoths and Vandals hate opera. The Bartered Bride is also performed on November 20.

La Traviata, Opera NorthThis is followed on November 19 and 20 by Verdi’s classic tale of boy meets girl, girl dies of consumption, La Traviata. This new production, directed by Alessandro Talevi, stars two rising talents, Hye-Youn Lee as the doomed Violetta and Ji-Min Park as the heart-broken Alfredo. The reviews for this production have been ecstatic.

And finally, on November 22, there’s a new production of Monteverdi’s early opera classic, The Coronation of Poppea (1643). I have to admit that for years I thought Monteverdi was a contemporary easy listening performer like James Last or the King’s Singers. Every time I heard his name I imagined Granny stocking fillers like his classic Monteverdi sings The Bay City Rollers. Once again, there’s that voice ‘stupid boy’. The Coronation of Poppea should be a humdinger. All performances start at 7.00 pm prompt.

Before I go, I must say thank you to Opera North for a splendid evening spent in Leeds at the launch of Kara McKechnie’s brilliant new history of Opera North published by Emerald Books. It was lovely to see Kara again and to hear the talented Lorna James sing. I would like also to thank my companion for the evening, Mr Matthew Frost, who whispered the most romantic words in the English language to me…”there’s free gin”.

By Robert Hamilton, Opera Correspondent

For more information about the Opera North Listings click here