What's On

Your guide to everything in North East

Newcastle Theatre Royal welcomes back Opera North with great excitement ahead of week

Star from popular company dresses to impress at Theatre Royal to launch a week of classic shows

Daniel Norman who is starring in La Traviata at the Theatre Royal
Daniel Norman who is starring in La Traviata at the Theatre Royal

There was an aria of excitement at Newcastle Theatre Royal on Tuesday with the flamboyant return of Opera North.

Star tenor Daniel Norman was dressed to impress as a matador ahead of the opening night.

Daniel plays Count Gastone in La Traviata, one of four shows being crammed into a week-long visit by the company who are hugely popular in the region.

The ladies’ man dons his cape in an “opera within an opera” - a Carmen-style party scene - in Opera North’s acclaimed take on Verdi’s classic about a doomed courtesan looking for love.

Daniel was a choral scholar at New College, Oxford, where he read engineering before continuing his studies in North America and at the Royal Academy of Music and he’s making a return to the theatre in the role following the show’s sell-out run there in November.

“I always love to be back in Newcastle,” he said. “I always have a smile on my face when I cross the bridge. It’s such a great city.”

He added: “In the party scene pretty women are pretending to be gypsies and the men pretend to be picadors or matadors and sing about matadors so this is a slightly different version as La Traviata was written before Carmen.”

But first up Daniel had two other roles to think about, in the contrasting double bill which launched Opera’s North spring run on Tuesday: Manuel de Falla’s short and tragic love story La Vida Breve, featuring Andalusian folk song, Spanish dance and a French star in soprano Anne Sophie Duprels, followed by Puccini’s only comedy Gianni Schicchi - a company first.

Christopher Purves, one of the current great operatic performers, took the title role in this mini comic masterpiece about scheming relatives gathered at the bedside of a dying rich man.

Based on an episode in Dante’s Inferno, it includes one of the composer’s best loved arias, O mio babbino caro.

La Traviata follows on Wednesday and sees Daniel joined by new cast members Anna Jeruc-Kopec as the courtesan Violetta and Stephen Gadd as Germont, the father of the young nobleman Alfredo, played again by South Korean tenor Ji-Min Park, she falls in love with.

Packed with glamorous costumes and an opulent set conjuring up the decadence and debauchery of Belle Époque Paris, it is set to prove just as popular second time around.

A second performance is being slotted in on Friday while in between the rest of the week plays out with a further colourful treat for opera fans.

On Thursday and closing the run on Saturday night will be Mozart comedy The Marriage of Figaro, considered one of the funniest and most heart-warming operas which sees a merry-go-round of love and desire begin with the hero learning on his wedding day that his bride Susanna is being pursued by his master.

Baritone Richard Burkhard leads a top international and British cast as Figaro and Norwegian soprano Silvia Moi, who appeared in Kenneth Branagh’s The Magic Flute, plays Susanna in the story, a sequel to The Barber of Seville, which is set within a chaotic 24-hour period.

The production, which only opened last week in Leeds, has already had five-star reviews.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer