Attending an Opera North production is like being a Manchester City supporter – home or away – the team just keep winning.
The latest venture is Kevin Puts’ version of what happened at Christmas 1914, when troops in opposing trenches decided that killing each other was not nearly as much fun as sharing chocolate and schnapps. Leeds Town Hall, with its magnificent organ and Victorian scrolls and flourishes, may seem an unlikely front line, but the ever reliable Tim Albery (director) and Hannah Clarke (set and costume) manage to create the confrontation, and then the camaraderie, the piece demands.
Against this background, individual stories emerge: The French lieutenant who loses his wallet in No Man’s Land, only to have it returned by a German officer; the German tenor who surrenders so as to be with the love of his life; the Scottish soldier wracked by guilt at the death of his brother whom he swore to protect. Quirijn de Lang as Lieutenant Audebert was, as ever, excellent in singing and acting. So too was Rupert Charlesworth as the German soldier tormented by his love for Anna (Maire Flavin) to the extent that he eventually surrenders. Adrian Clarke’s rich baritone presented the voice of humanity as Fathe Palmer.
The audience left after two and a half hours of challenging entertainment muttering words like ‘remarkable’, ‘moving’and ‘stunning’. You are unlikely to hear such comments about many other operas composed as recently as 2011. Opera North will tour Mozart’s The Magic Flute next year.
The Magic Flute is an epic tale about growing up, finding your way in the world and learning to love. Join Prince Tamino on his quest to rescue Pamina, daughter of the Queen of the Night held captive by the Priest of the Sun.
But his mission soon becomes a journey of discovery, for nothing – not even Day and Night – is quite as it first appears.
It is on from January 19 to March 23 opening at Leeds Grand Theatre.
Silent Night can be seen at Leeds Town Hall on December 6 and 7.