New Opera House for Opera North, Leeds


photo by Richard Moran

For the first time in over twenty years, the culturally curious from Leeds and beyond will have the chance to experience the Howard Assembly Room and the adventurous and eclectic programme that is planned for it. From 16 January 2009 the much anticipated venue, the first to be run by Opera North, will showcase an international and diverse range of chamber-sized work including film, classical music, spoken word, world music, folk, jazz and music theatre based in the cool northern edge of the city.

With much of the building restored to its original Grade II* listed Victorian splendour, The Howard Assembly Room marks the final phase in the restoration of Leeds Grand Theatre. The opening programme gives a taste of what’s in store for Leeds audiences.

Highlights include:

  • Joanna MacGregor: ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ – one of the world’s most wide ranging and innovative musicians makes a rare appearance in Leeds.
  • I Fagiolini, Monteverdi: Flaming Heart - This internationally-renowned vocal ensemble demonstrates Monteverdi’s genius for expressing powerful emotion through music of matchless beauty.
  • Into the Little Hill – a new production by the acclaimed Opera Group, featuring the London Sinfonietta, this darkly magical operatic retelling of the Pied Piper fable is in Leeds for just two nights.
  • Rory Bremner – one night ‘audience with’ one of the UK’s sharpest comedians.
  • United Visual Artists (UVA) and Amenity Space - two new light commissions by outstanding artists for Opera North. ‘Chorus’ by the acclaimed UVA in association with Mira Calix will create a kinetic sound and light installation inside the Howard Assembly Room and Amenity Space will make a transformational difference to the new glass bridge with their permanent light installation ‘Trace’.
  • Armando Iannucci - award-winning writer (I’m Alan Partridge, The Thick of It), in conversation with opera director Richard Jones, about ‘Skin Deep’, a new satire on cosmetic surgery.
  • Tiger Lillies in concert: ‘The Songs of Shockheaded Peter and Other Gory Verses’. Extraordinary trio with a cult following all over the world celebrate their 20th anniversary in Leeds.

A rehearsal venue for the award-winning Orchestra of Opera North by day, the 350-seat Howard Assembly Room has the flexibility to allow performers, artists, students and audiences to experiment. With the aim of showcasing the best of contemporary work and nurturing young talent drawn from a broad range of artistic disciplines, the Howard Assembly Room brings new energy to the thriving cultural scene in Leeds, with the hallmark of quality for which Opera North is known.

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