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Opera North Gets Its Festivities Off To A Flying Start
Orchestra of Opera North at Christmas - Photo by Amy Charles
The Orchestra of Opera North is looking forward to putting everyone in a festive mood as they prepare for a young Leeds singer to perform with them during two special screenings of The Snowman, and add the finishing touches to a seasonal concert with Leeds Festival Chorus.

Thirteen-year-old Ben Hayes beat off stiff competition from the other members of Opera North Young Voices to be selected to sing the Walking in the Air solo when the Orchestra of Opera North play Howard Blake’s captivating score alongside screenings of Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman at Huddersfield Town Hall on Tuesday 12 December and Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 17 December.

Ben has been singing and performing since he was nine years old, most recently winning Best Supporting Actor at the Leeds Civic Arts Guild Awards for his portrayal of Gavroche in Leeds Youth Opera’s production of Les Misérables. Earlier in the year, he toured with Opera North to the Aldeburgh Festival to perform in Billy Budd.

Ben Hayes who will be singing Walkin in the Air with the Orchestra of Opera North
Ben, who attends Roundhay School in Leeds, said:

“I joined Opera North Young Voices a year ago and singing with my friends there is the highlight of my week. Being given the chance to audition for The Snowman was really exciting. I can’t believe I’ve been given such a fantastic opportunity to perform with Opera North at such great venues.”

Before Ben takes to the stage at each event, the audience will be entertained with the classic rags-to-riches tale of Cinderella, illustrated with charming visuals and accompanied by Prokofiev’s magical music.

A few days earlier on Saturday 9 December at 7.30pm, a Festive Box of Delights will bring together Leeds Festival Chorus and the Orchestra of Opera North in Leeds Town Hall to perform a programme of traditional festive pieces interspersed with operatic gems, under the baton of the Chorus’s Conductor and Artistic Adviser, Simon Wright.

Choral showpieces, including Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Berlioz’s Shepherds’ Farewell, will be threaded together with excerpts from Opera North’s repertoire past, present and future, including the Intermezzo and Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, the poignant Humming Chorus from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and, from Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter’s toe-tapping Another Op’nin’, Another Show.

Hely-Hutchinson’s Carol Symphony will be familiar to many as the theme from the television adaptation of The Box of Delights, but its enchanting setting of The First Nowell will captivate young and old regardless, while the twinkling melodies of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite bring the magical atmosphere of Russian fairy tales to life.

The wintry Russian theme continues with the joyful Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

Simon Wright, Conductor and Artistic Adviser, Leeds Festival Chorus, commented:

“I’m really looking forward to this! With our friends at Opera North, we’ve put together a brilliantly varied festive programme which will be the perfect opportunity to refresh our long partnership.

“With over 200 musicians and singers on the Town Hall stage, this concert is guaranteed to get everyone into the Christmas spirit!”

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, commented:

“We’re very proud of our long relationship with Leeds Festival Chorus, who last joined us for the sold-out performance of Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ at the Town Hall in Summer 2016.

“Christmas seems an ideal time for another get-together. Our Festive Box of Delights promises to be a seasonal concert with a difference, and an opportunity for both ensembles to show off their wonderful versatility.”

Tickets for both of the Leeds Town Hall events are available from leedstownhall.co.uk, or by calling Leeds Town Hall Box Office on 0113 376 0318. Tickets for the concert at Huddersfield Town Hall are available from kirkleestownhalls.co.uk or 01484 225755.

Opera North Gets Its Festivities Off To A Flying Start, 1st December 2017, 20:55 PM