Leeds Grand Theatre, designed in Gothic Revival style, 1878
The marketeers are trying hard already, enthusing about Croesus's "gloriously lively invention". [...] Opera North is clearly prepared for the hard sell. But who sold Croesus to the company? It was Tim Albery, who directs the opera and two others (Madama Butterfly and Macbeth) in the 2007-8 season just announced. His most recent work with the company was the new production of Janacek's Katya Kabanova. Richard Mantle, ON's general director, admits he was persuaded by Albery's enthusiasm for Croesus, a work he had wanted to direct for some time. "There is huge variety in the piece," said Mantle. "Many of the arias are quite short and there is also spoken dialogue. The young male soprano Michael Maniaci will make his debut with the company as Atis. He has a most extraordinary voice."Opera North is returning to their newly renovated home, the Leeds Grand Theatre, where they will bring back their celebrated production of Peter Grimes by Phyllida Lloyd next season, in the same year as a new production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Opera North will also give the world premiere of Jonathan Dove's new opera, The Adventures Of Pinocchio, next season.
There is also the feeling that the story of an immensely rich and powerful king who believes he is invulnerable is a "cautionary tale for our times". Croesus will be the company's third early opera within a year: Monteverdi's Orfeo has enjoyed what are called mixed reviews (and the odd boo) and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas has just opened in Leeds in a double bill with Stravinsky's Les Noces.
Andrew Clark recently reviewed that double bill of Dido and Aeneas and Les Noces (Les Noces/Dido and Aeneas Grand Theatre, Leeds, May 11) for the Financial Times:
Opera North is the canniest of companies. [...] Stravinsky’s ballet-cantata Les Noces and Purcell’s opera are not an obvious pairing, but I have yet to come across any satisfactory companion piece for Dido and Aeneas, which compresses the entire life-cycle into 55 minutes. Opera North could probably have got away with performing it on its own. Aletta Collins’ staging, designed by Giles Cadle, Gabrielle Dalton and Bruno Poet, marries the operatic and choreographic elements seamlessly. It is visually austere – plaited hair and plain black dresses, with a moon-like disc hovering as a symbol of fate – so that the work’s simplicity of utterance projects with laser-like directness. But its emotional force is undermined by a finale in which Dido cuts her wrists, making for a morbid, psychologically tangled death scene.The Dido is a luscious voice, Susan Bickley. Other reviews were published by The Times, The Observer, and The Telegraph.