Donny Diva Lesley Garrett returns to the stage

Lesley Garrett
Lesley Garrett

A stellar line up of classical events takes place in the Howard Assembly Room’s new season this Autumn, as the Leeds venue hosts a wide-range of artists from the return of Yorkshire’s best-loved soprano Lesley Garrett to the award-winning vocal ensemble I Fagiolini, and from traditional festive favourites to contemporary commissions.

Lesley Garrett performs an intimate concert exploring the rich history of opera’s forsaken women; ahead of her upcoming return to the operatic stage as Elle in Opera North’s new production of Poulenc’s La voix humaine. Lesley’s concert in the Howard Assembly Room will feature great moments of lost love in music by Purcell, Beethoven and Verdi.

The Autumn line-up also includes two exciting new commissions by Opera North Projects. GW Pabst’s 1929 silent film Pandora’s Box, which follows the rise and fall of the exquisite but amoral young prostitute Lulu, is screened with a new live score by Icelandic post-classical composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and cellist and composer Hildur Gudnadóttir. This follows a hugely successful FILMusic season in the Howard Assembly Room in early 2012, continuing both that season’s exploration of the many and varied links between film and music, and a growing tradition in the Howard Assembly Room for presenting silent films with live score. In addition to Pandora’s Box, the Howard Assembly Room will screen two films with thematic links to Opera North’s mainstage productions of The Makropulos Case and Faust: Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos and Istvan Szabo’s Mephisto.

The second new commission from Opera North Projects sees award-winning vocal ensemble I Fagiolini performing David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Little Match Girl Passion. Overseen by creative advisor John Fulljames, associate director at the Royal Opera House, this seasonal production features theatrical animation by shadow puppeteer Matthew Robins. The Little Match Girl Passion, which is based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, is performed alongside one of JS Bach’s greatest motets, Jesu Meine Freude, and carols from Germany and Denmark.

Festive events during December 2012 include mezzo-soprano Alice Coote and pianist Julius Drake performing Schubert’s Winterreise, following critically acclaimed performances at London’s Wigmore Hall, and a Christmas concert featuring sacred and secular music performed by the 92 members of the Opera North Children’s Chorus.

Other highlights this Autumn include Debussy and Purcell from the Brodsky Quartet, Arvo Part and Komitas from a capella ensemble Armenian Voices, and a show-stopping performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring by piano duo Philip Moore and Simon Crawford-Phillips.