More pleasure at Opera North thanks to Doncaster diva Lesley Garrett

Lesley Garrett.

Lesley Garrett.

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With two nights already sold out, Opera North have scheduled another performance of their new chamber opera, Pleasure, created by the young composer Mark Simpson and writer Melanie Challenger with Lesley Garrett in the lead role

The extra date, at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds on Saturday April 30, will follow two sold out performances at the venue including the world premiere on Thursday April 28.

A family tragedy played out against the backdrop of a gay nightclub, Pleasure is the fourth new opera commissioned and produced as part of a three-year partnership between Aldeburgh Music, The Royal Opera and Opera North, designed to boost opportunities for emerging opera writers, and bring new work to audiences across the UK. Following its Leeds run it will tour to Liverpool, Aldeburgh and London.

The opera tells the story of Val, who works as an attendant in the toilets in ‘Pleasure,’ a hedonistic gay club in the north of England, presided over by the drag queen Anna Fewmore. For years, Val has been both a shoulder to cry on and a confidante. She is much-loved, but viewed as an enigma. Why is she still there? Why does she never leave? When Nathan, a beautiful and unpredictable young man, arrives in Pleasure and leaves a gift for Val, it marks the beginning of an emotional and violent night.

Tim Albery directs, with set and costume designs by Leslie Travers; a creative pairing whose previous work together has included award-winning productions of Otello and Giulio Cesare at Opera North, and Aldeburgh Music’s open-air staging of Grimes on the Beach, marking Benjamin Britten’s centenary in 2013. Tim Albery has also directed numerous productions at The Royal Opera, including Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser. 

Pleasure will be performed by a cast of four singers including soprano Lesley Garrett as Val, alongside the Manchester-based music ensemble Psappha, conducted by Nicholas Kok. The cast is completed by baritone Timothy Nelson as Nathan, tenor Nick Pritchard as Matthew, and baritone Steven Page as Anna Fewmore.

One of the UK’s most exciting young musical talents, Mark Simpson was born in Liverpool in 1988. He won BBC Young Musician of the Year as a clarinetist in 2006 and also, that same year, received the accolade of BBC Young Composer of the Year – the only individual to have won both competitions. He is Composer in Association with the BBC Philharmonic.

leasure sees Simpson turn to opera for the first time, collaborating once again with librettist Melanie Challenger. Highly sought after and admired by peers, critics and audiences alike, Challenger’s stunning achievements in poetry and prose include the award-winning non-fiction book On Extinction. The duo recently received critical praise for their contribution to the 2015 Manchester International Festival, The Immortal, which was performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

The world premiere of Pleasure will be at the Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds in April 2016, before the production tours to the Liverpool Playhouse, the Britten Studio at Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings, and the Lyric Hammersmith in London.

Dates of Performances:

Howard Assembly Room at Opera North, Leeds

Thu Apr 28, 7.45pm, WORLD PREMIERE (press night) SOLD OUT

Fri Apr 29, 7.45pm, SOLD OUT

Sat Apr 30, 7.45pm, tickets: £15. Concessions available. Click here

Liverpool Playhouse

Wed May 4, 7.30pm, tickets from £15. Click here

Britten Studio at Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings

Sat May 7, 8pm, tickets: £15 - £18. Under 27s half price. Click here

Lyric Hammersmith, London

Thu May 12, 7.30pm (press night)

Fri May 13, 7.30pm

Sat May 14, 7.30pm, tickets £15 - £35. No booking fee. Click here