Opera North’s Parsifal prepares for UK tour

Opera North’s eagerly anticipated staging of Parsifal, Wagner’s last and arguably most mesmerising work, takes place this June, touring to concert halls across the country after opening in the company’s home city of Leeds.

  • Leeds Grand Theatre (1 – 10 June 2022)
  • Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (12 June 2022)
  • Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham (15 June 2022)
  • Sage Gateshead (18 June 2022)
  • Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre (26 June 2022)

Parsifal marks the latest in Opera North’s adaptation of large-scale music works into performances suitable for the concert hall. With props and costumes kept to a minimum, the 90-piece orchestra are visible on stage throughout, putting the dramatic force of the composer’s score at the forefront of the production. The performances will be conducted by Richard Farnes who makes a welcome return to both Opera North and Wagner’s work, having conducted the Company’s universally acclaimed concert staging of the full Ring cycle in 2016.

Richard Farnes said:

While the jury may still be out on the ultimate meaning of Parsifal, what is beyond argument is the overwhelming power and beauty of Wagner’s music, which reaches new heights of expressive intensity in this work. I’m delighted to be working with such a terrific cast, many of whom are fresh to the piece, and to be returning to the wonderful Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North.

The most mysterious of Wagner’s operas, Parsifal is an immense, self-contained universe in which ideas of faith, suffering, temptation, compassion and redemption are expressed in an extraordinary new musical language. From the first notes of the 15-minute orchestral ‘Prelude’ to the celebrated ‘Good Friday Music’ with its ethereal beauty, Wagner carries the audience from worldly to exalted places.

Toby Spence as Florestan in Opera North’s 2020 production of Beethoven’s Fidelio
Toby Spence as Florestan in Opera North’s 2020 production of Beethoven’s Fidelio

Amfortas, ruler of the Kingdom of the Grail, suffers an incurable wound after losing the Holy Spear to the evil sorcerer Klingsor. When a prophecy reveals that only a naïve young man who has learnt compassion will be able to heal Amfortas, Parsifal must embark on a quest to save the community of the Grail.  Making their role debuts in this production will be Brindley Sherratt as Gurnemanz and Toby Spence as Parsifal. They will be joined by Katarina Karnéus as Kundry. Robert Hayward as Amfortas and Derek Welton as Klingsor.

Toby Spence said:

Parsifal with Opera North will be my first experience of singing one of Wagner’s great tenor roles. The process of its preparation has already been a journey of discovery. Along the way I have been asking myself what it was Wagner wanted to achieve through his last stage work. The exploration of new music and ideas, of course, but also to show audiences how understanding and compassion are the lifeblood of good and truth.

This slow-burn pageant has taught me to think differently about Wagner and to see that he was reaching for the sublime with his Bühnenweihfestspiel (stage consecration festival play). I can’t wait to take on this challenge with Richard Farnes and the rest of the formidable team.

After opening at Leeds Grand Theatre, Parsifal will travel to the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall, and Sage Gateshead, before completing the tour in London at the end of June at the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre. Following successful trials over the last two years, pre-recorded audio description will be broadcast to mobile devices at all performances, ensuring that people can enjoy the opera even if they are unable to read the surtitles.

Cast and creative team:
Parsifal Toby Spence
Kundry Katerina Karnéus
Gurnemanz Brindley Sherratt
Amfortas Robert Hayward
Klingsor Derek Welton
Titurel Stephen Richardson
Grail Knights Ivan Sharpe
Richard Mosley-Evans
Flowermaidens Samantha Clarke
Kathryn Stevens
Victoria Sharp
Elin Pritchard
Miranda Bevin
Helen Évora
Esquires Claire Pascoe
Molly Barker
Nicholas Watts
Campbell Russell
Voice Hazel Croft

Conductor Richard Farnes
Director Sam Brown
Set & Lighting designer (Leeds performances) Bengt Gomér
Costume (Leeds performances) Stephen Rodwell

Performance diary:

All performances start at 4.00pm

Leeds Grand Theatre
Wed 1 Jun
Sat 4 Jun
Tue 7 Jun
Fri 10 Jun

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Sun 12 Jun

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Wed 15 Jun

Sage Gateshead
Sat 18 Jun

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre
Sun 26 Jun

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