Who would have thought you could have such an incredible night out for just £15?
Opera and contemporary dance may seem a million miles apart, but when you watch them side by side, you’ll soon realise that they have more in common than you thought – which is why this double bill is so exciting. Opera North has teamed up with Phoenix Dance Theatre to present a fresh take on an iconic ballet alongside a side-splitting opera, and tickets start at just £15, so why not find out what you’ve been missing?
See an iconic ballet reimagined as a contemporary dance piece
The Rite of Spring was the ballet that changed the world. Startlingly different to everything that had come before, it caused riots in the theatre when it first premiered in 1913. The strange dissonance of Igor Stravinsky’s score is both familiar and alien, aloof and utterly beguiling, so it’s easy to see how it paved the way for a new generation of composers.
Here, that iconic score is the inspiration behind a whole new piece. World-renowned choreographer Jeanguy Saintus has created a new interpretation of the iconic ballet, one that’s distinctly different to Vaslav Nijinsky’s original. It takes inspiration from his Haitian heritage, so you can expect a vibrant exploration of voodoo, told through a new language of dance. This production is modern, unusual and filled with Caribbean influences rarely seen in the UK.
Although The Rite of Spring is very much an abstract piece, it has a loose story that pulls you in, but this version is a little different to the norm. The chosen ones aren’t sacrifices, they’re initiates hoping to embody the Loa, spirits of Hatian voodoo, so expect unusual characters and exotic rituals.
Why opera fans will love it…
The Rite of Spring is just as thrilling as an opera, the only difference is that the story is told through dance, not song. It’s an iconic score, played by the ever-so-talented Orchestra of Opera North, and anyone with a love of music is in for a real treat. But this is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears, so prepare to discover Phoenix Dance Theatre’s astonishing ability to express themselves through movement alone.
Watch a wickedly funny opera with an outrageous plot
Gianni Schicchi is Puccini’s only outright comedy, but that’s not the only thing that makes it unique – it also represents a time in the composer’s life when he began to move away from the signature style of La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, towards a more discordant, experimental approach. So you can hear one of the most famous arias of all time, ‘O mio babbino caro’, within a score that will surprise and delight.
But there’s so much more to the opera than just the music. This is theatre at its very best, so you’re in for a rip-roaring show filled with dramatic twists, big laughs and unexpected surprises. Buoso Donati is dead and his family are enraged – but not because of the injustice of his death. They’re peeved that he left his fortune to the local monastery, so they engage conman Gianni Schicchi to impersonate the dead man and change the will. Needless to say, nothing goes to plan.
Sung in Italian with English subtitles, Gianni Schicchi is incredibly simple to follow, so it’s easy to get carried away in the story, especially because the sets are so fun. There’s an upside down donkey hanging from the ceiling, a wall the performers climb as they sing and a balcony above that makes full use of the space.
Why dance fans will love it…
Opera is just as physical and dynamic as dance, except here, they flex their vocals cords instead of their muscles. And Gianni Schicchi is particularly well suited to dance fans, because alongside the vocal gymnastics, they’ve built aerial acrobatics into the show. Dante, whose Inferno inspired the show itself, will be played by a dancer and aerial trapeze artist who will add a death-defying twist to proceedings.
The Rite of Spring and Gianni Schicchi come to Leeds Grand Theatre from Saturday 16th February to Saturday 2nd March 2019. Prices start at just £15.