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New To Opera? Try It ON Comes To The Lowry

“It was a great experience and one I’ll be telling my family and friends about! My preconceived ideas about opera being highbrow, stuffy and boring were all blown out of the water.”
Try it On Participant, Leeds 

Going to the opera is an experience everyone should try at least once in their lifetime – and this autumn there is an even greater incentive to give it a go as Opera North’s Try it ON scheme comes to The Lowry.

Try it ON offers £20 tickets for all performances to anyone who has never been to the opera before. As well as one of the best seats in the auditorium, participants receive special pre-show emails with behind-the-scenes exclusives and useful information about the opera they have decided to see. This season, the choice includes three very different productions with a much-loved favourite, a spectacular Egyptian power play and an exploration of society’s response to refugees.

The run starts with Phyllida Lloyd’s classic staging of La bohème, Puccini’s popular tale of young bohemians in Paris. Over the years, this production has provided an ideal introduction to opera for countless newcomers with its depiction of young love in the 1960s and the devastation of loss.

Michael Barker-Caven, Revival Director for La bohème, said: 

“For anybody, especially a young person, who’s never been to the opera, La bohèmeis the place to start because you will come and learn that great opera is about you. What’s so extraordinary about it, when you hear it and watch it, is that it feels as if it could be emotionally and dramatically written today. It’s not alien – it’s absolutely about who you are at a deeper, richer level.”

La bohèmefeatures two new international casts showcasing some of today’s most promising young artists. Lauren Fagan, who represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World,and soprano Katie Bird share the role of Mimì, alongside Eleazar Rodríguez and Thomas Atkins as Rodolfo. Renato Balsadonna conducts.

Tim Albery’s thrilling production of Handel’s Egyptian epic Giulio Cesare follows. Cleopatra and her brother, Tolomeo, are vying for the throne when Julius Caesar arrives in Egypt in pursuit of an enemy. Seeing the opportunity to tip the balance of power in her favour, Cleopatra seduces Caesar and a dangerous romance rapidly ensures.

This compelling tale of politics, vengeance and desire is performed against the backdrop of Leslie Travers’ dramatic and beautiful designs. One of today’s leading early music conductors, Christian Curnyn, conducts,with Swedish contralto Maria Sanner making her Opera North debut in the title role. Lucie Chartin joins the Company for the first time as Cleopatra, while counter-tenor James Laing returns to this production in the role of Tolomeo.

Completing the season is the incredibly topical and yet rarely-performed The Greek Passion, conducted by Opera North’s new Music Director designate, Garry Walker. Set in a remote community, Martinů’s final opera explores the divisions created in a village when a group of refugees arrives, pleading for food and shelter, at the same time as the residents are preparing for their traditional Easter Passion play. An urgent plea for compassion and tolerance, the opera was written when Martinů was himself in exile and reflects Opera North’s status as the only opera company in the UK to be awarded official Theatre of Sanctuary status.

Christopher Alden, who is directing The Greek Passion, said:

“The story which The Greek Passiontells is so moving and timely and the way in which Martinů tells it, with music and dialogue woven together in a uniquely seamless fashion, is unlike anything else I have come across. I’m sure that both the experienced opera goer and the operatic newbie are going to be swept away by the power of this extraordinary piece of music theatre.”

Joining the Try it ON scheme is free with sign-up online here.


Tue 12 Nov                              La bohème                                                                  7.30pm
Wed 13 Nov                           Giulio Cesare                                                              7.00pm
Thu 14 Nov                            La bohème (audio described/sign interpreted)         7.30pm
Fri 15 Nov                               La bohème                                                                  7.30pm
Sat 16 Nov                             The Greek Passion                                                     7.30pm

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