Review: Snow Maiden, Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre

Snow Maiden presented by Opera North is on in Leeds
Snow Maiden presented by Opera North is on in Leeds

Bold indeed that director John Fulljames should choose to mix the supernatural and the quotidian so closely in Opera North’s new production of The Snow Maiden.

The opera opens in a sewing machine sweat shop (presumably re-cycled from last year’s La Vida Breve), but features the daughter of King Frost and Spring Beauty.

The problem for Snow Maiden is that she wants to experience the joys and pleasures that she sees humans indulging in the forest, but her heart is made of ice and the jealous sun god will melt it given too much exposure in the summer.

Aoife Miskelly is a vulnerable and appealing Snow Maiden who desperately wants to grow up and experience love.

Unfortunately, the object of her affections, the swaggering Lel, played by Heather Lowe in a trouser role, has other ideas.

His choice eventually falls on Kupava, Elin Pritchard, who takes life at full throttle with a great feel for comedy, virtually stealing the show.

It does not end well. As everyone knows, in opera, if a woman’s name is in the title she will be dead in Act 1V.

Snow Maiden does not heed the warnings and, when she rolls to the back of the stage in the arms of her lover, when he rolls back, he is holding an empty dress.

This wonderful piece of stage craft goes with the brilliant design of snow, flowers and animals projected on to gauzes, captivating and magical in itself.

The Snow Maiden is part of the Opera North season at Leeds Grand Theatre and run until March 24.

The company is also presenting Hansel and Gretel which opens on Thursday February 2.