With Spring around the corner, that can only mean one thing. Och, it can mean many things to millions of people, but here at Northern Soul Towers it signals OperaWatch’s favourite time of year.
Fresh from hibernating in the bleak operaless winter, March sees the sap rising in the loins of our musical taste buds and we awake, hungry and horny, for the opera offerings placed before us.
At The Lowry in Salford this means the return of the best opera company in the country, Opera North. Fresh from the triumph of the Ring Cycle, they present a season of operatic fairy tales. The season opens with Humperdinck’s reworking of the Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel. Directed by Edward Dick, it stars Katie Bray as Hansel and Fflur Wyn as Hansel. The great Susan Bullock plays both the mother and the wicked witch.
It is followed on March 9 by La Cenerentola (Cinderella), an operatic drama giocoso by Gioachino Rossini. It marks the Opera North debut of Canadian mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta as Angelina and South African tenor, Sunnyboy Dladla as Don Ramiro.
Finally, a rare treat in John Fulljames’ direction of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden which has not been performed in this country for more than 60 years. It stars debutante Aoife Miskelly. The season has been receiving rave reviews since its opening in Leeds and I’m as excited by the prospect as any March hare.
As you all may know, this opera correspondent is a great fan of the operas at the Royal Northern College of Music and I expect its production of Handel’s masterwork, Theodora, which runs from March 24 to April 1, to be no exception.
Lastly, HOME in Manchester is streaming three great operas from London and New York. La Traviata and Mozart’s Idomeneo come live from the Metropolitan Opera on March 11 and 25 , as well as one of my favourites from the Royal Opera House on March 30, Madam Butterfly.
So, opera fans, dig yourself out of your winter bolthole, dust off your opera glasses and cry ‘bravo’, the opera season is here.
By Robert Hamilton, Opera Correspondent
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