THIS week I’m taking a long look ahead at the autumn classical season, with the focus on opera and choral performances.
I mentioned the Hallé’s Verdi Requiem (October 3) last week – almost an operatic event in its own right – and the Hallé Choir are singing Poulenc’s Gloria on November 26 and have Handel’s Messiah (December 12) and their popular Christmas carol concerts (December 19 and 20) to come.
But for real, staged opera, it’s Opera North we look to: in November their visit to The Lowry includes two classic productions in revival – Rossini’s The Barber Of Seville on November 10 and 12 and Janáček’s Jenůfa on November 11 – as well as a new production of Cole Porter’s musical, Kiss Me Kate (November 13 and 14).
The production of The Barber, by Giles Havergal, has been seen around the world since its creation by Opera North in 1986, and this time comes with virtuoso comic actor-singers Eric Roberts and Alastair Miles, as Bartolo and Basilio, while notable young tenor Nicholas Watts is Count Almaviva, newcomer mezzo Katie Bray is Rosina, and Figaro is Irish baritone Gavan Ring.
Jenůfa boasts a superlative cast in Tom Cairns’ 1995 production, with Susan Bickley as the Kostelnička, and Swedish soprano Ylva Kihlberg – who gave a mesmerizing performance in Opera North’s The Makropoulos Case in 2012 – in the title role.
The Royal Northern College of Music has chosen Kurt Weill’s Street Scene as its December production this year. Described as a ‘Broadway opera’ when it opened in 1946, it’s a blend of soaring melody, brassy jazz and sparkly showtunes.
Visiting the Royal Northern College of Music on October 20 is Cryptic, a company with a reputation for creating memorable experiences that engage and inspire audiences, and they present The Little Match Girl Passion, which combines Hans Christian Andersen’s story with J S Bach’s setting of the St Matthew Passion in a staging that fuses music, sonic art and multi-media.
At the Bridgewater Hall, The Sixteen are bringing both choir and orchestra on October 30 for a celebration of Handel. Harry Christophers conducts in a programme including Dixit Dominus, one of the Chandos anthems and the coronation anthem, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened. And St George’s Singers perform Mozart’s Mass in C minor, with Chetham’s Chamber Orchestra conducted by Stephen Threlfall and soloists including Kitty Whately (daughter of Kevin ‘Lewis’ Whately) at the RNCM on November 21.