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3:41 AM 7th October 2020

Opera North And Northern Ballet Set To Return To Home Venue, Leeds Grand Theatre

Leeds Heritage Theatres has announced that resident, Leeds-based companies, Opera North and Northern Ballet, will make a welcome return to Leeds Grand Theatre in 2021, almost a year after the theatre was forced to close due to the pandemic.

Leeds Grand Theatre auditorium. Photo by Simon Hulme
Leeds Grand Theatre auditorium. Photo by Simon Hulme
The only venue outside of London to house both an opera and ballet company, The Grand will play host to Opera North from January to February 2021 (season of work yet to be announced), followed by Northern Ballet from Thursday 4 to Saturday 13 March 2021, who will be revisiting the classic, Swan Lake, beautifully reimagined by David Nixon OBE (The Nutcracker, Little Mermaid), with Tchaikovsky's electrifying score played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

Opera North's Cinderella
Opera North's Cinderella
Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, says: "We are looking forward immensely to once again creating and sharing great music and opera with our audiences at Leeds Grand Theatre, our home venue of more than 40 years.

“We are working closely with our colleagues at the Grand to ensure that we are able to give our audiences a safe and warm welcome back to live events, with all the anticipation, thrill and joy that live performance delivers and plan to return to the theatre in January 2021; we will be announcing productions for this new season as soon as we can.”

Mark Skipper, Chief Executive of Northern Ballet, adds: "After an absence of almost a year, we are delighted to be returning to Leeds Grand Theatre with Swan Lake. The Grand Theatre is hugely important to us as one of our home venues where, in normal times, we enjoy performing to our loyal Yorkshire audience twice a year. We are also saddened that COVID-19 has led to the postponement of Merlin this winter; other than during the refurbishment in 2005, this will be the first time in more than 25 years that we have not held our festive season in Leeds. However, we are looking forward to performing Swan Lake in March, a beautiful traditional title presented with a twist.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support our audiences have given us over the last few difficult months and are looking ahead with great anticipation to getting back onto the Leeds Grand Theatre stage once more.”

Northern Ballet dancers in Swan Lake. Photo by Emma Kauldhar
Northern Ballet dancers in Swan Lake. Photo by Emma Kauldhar
The news comes only a week after it was announced that City Varieties Music Hall will also reopen its doors on Friday 9 October with an exciting programme of film presented in collaboration with sister venue Hyde Park Picture House. Opera North will also stage the first live performance at The Varieties since reopening when they present Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella (directed by John Savournin), on Sunday 29 November; “a charming pop-up style introduction to some of the many musical interpretations of the classic fairy tale" says Mantle.

Chris Blythe, CEO of Leeds Heritage Theatres, comments: “This year has, and continues, to be extremely difficult for our three venues - it is well documented that the arts and culture sector is suffering nation-wide - but having Opera North and Northern Ballet, two regional companies recognised for their innovative and risk-taking approach to their individual art forms, commit to return in early 2021 gives us so much hope for the future and something for Leeds-audiences to look forward to. Arts and culture are needed now more than ever to help boost people’s mental health and build community through shared experience as we all try to find some escapism from our day-to-day and ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19.”

Tickets for Opera North’s Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella at City Varieties Music Hall will be on sale from Friday 9 October at www.leedsheritagetheatres.com
Tickets for Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake will be on sale from Friday 16 October at www.leedsheritagetheatres.com