Following the ‘Giulio Cesare’ performances that took place at the Grand Theatre in Leeds, it was a brand new experience for me to be part of a tour with Opera North. It was the first time I had performed an opera in a variety of theatres and it was a fantastic experience. What great theatres they were too!
Our first visit was to Nottingham and to the lovely setting of the Theatre Royal. It was built in 1865 and is a luxurious theatre. It initially provided opulent surroundings during the popularity of music hall and a variety of events, including light opera and touring opera. In 1952 the theatre made history with the world premiere of ‘The Mousetrap’ (as part of the pre-West End tour). It is a Grade 1 listed building with an audience capacity 1294 on four levels. It was lovely to see the historical buildings in Nottingham and I also grabbed the chance to meet Robin Hood while I wandered through the city!
Our next ‘Giulio Cesare’ performance was in The Lowry Lyric Theatre in Salford Quays Manchester. Built in 2000, The Lowry is a spectacular waterside building housing three theatres, galleries and restaurants. The art gallery holds a vast collection by the artist L S Lowry. It was wonderful to be back in Manchester where I spent my time studying at the Royal Northern College of Music. There was great support in the audience from friends and colleagues and it was a really memorable evening.
We then travelled up to Newcastle to the Grade 1 listed building; Theatre Royal. The theatre was celebrating its 175th year (opened in 1837). Following a performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a fire destroyed the interior of the building in 1899 and its interior was redesigned. Celebratory events are taking place throughout the year to mark the theatre’s 175th Birthday.
The final venue for the tour was the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (formely known as the Grand Canal Theatre) in Dublin which opened in 2010. It was Opera North’s first visit to the theatre and my first trip to Dublin. The Theatre is a stunning new building and is the largest theatre in Ireland and it was officially opened with a performance of Swan Lake by the Russian State Ballet with Stars from the Bolshoi.
The Opera North team travelled to Dublin taking not only the Cesare production but also their successful production of Madame Butterfly. What a warm welcome we all received! I took part in several radio interviews prior to our arrival in Dublin to talk about ‘Giulio Cesare’ and I also had the pleasure of joining Marty Whelen on his Lyric FM morning show.
It was also a great opportunity to soak up the atmosphere as the City prepared to celebrate St Patrick’s week-end and also to be able to visit some of the Dublin’s tourist attractions from the stunningly beautiful Book of Kells at Trinity College to the Guinness Storehouse experience!
Thanks to everyone who made the tour a wonderful experience and to the audiences who gave us such warm receptions. It was a very special way to finish a very special tour!