Major new collaboration with Opera North announced for 2019

28 Feb 2018


The Rite of Spring: Major new collaboration with Opera North

Premiere: 16 February 2019, Leeds Grand Theatre (7 performances)

The Rite of Spring is a 20th century iconic ballet set to Igor Stravinsky’s ground-breaking score. This year, 105 years after the premiere, two giants of the Northern Arts scene – Phoenix Dance Theatre and Opera North – will work together for the first time to present a re-working of this seminal piece.

“This is a really exciting collaboration,” says Sharon Watson, Artistic Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre. “It’s the first time we have worked with Opera North and I’m thrilled to be able to showcase our diversity and athletic power in such an emotional and energetic piece.”

The original premiere of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in 1913, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, was a defining moment in 20th-century art. It is considered one of the first examples of Modernism in music and is noted for its brutality and dissonance. Its opening performance provided one of the most scandalous premieres in history, with rioting breaking out amongst the audience, and the manager of the new Theatre des Champs-Élysées being sent into bankruptcy.

“With our brand new contemporary choreography and the orchestra’s thoroughly modern and complex score, we are becoming a part of this production’s colourful history,” continues Sharon. “In turn we will be introducing The Rite of Spring to a new audience.”

Structured in two parts, ‘The Adoration of the Earth’ and ‘The Sacrifice’, the original ballet draws on Russian folklore to conjure up a world of primitive religious ceremony, ancestor worship and ritual sacrifice. A newly choreographed version of this era-defining work will be performed by Phoenix, with the full Orchestra of Opera North and conductor Garry Walker playing the unmistakable modernist score.

“This is our first large scale collaboration,” says Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North. “We are extremely excited to bring together the musical forces of the full Orchestra of Opera North with Phoenix’s outstanding contemporary dance ensemble, in a new version of one of the most iconic works of art, The Rite of Spring.”

Northern Tour:

16, 23, 28 February and 2 March, Leeds Grand Theatre  / 8 March, The Lowry, Manchester  / 16 March, Northern Stage Newcastle

The Rite of Spring will be performed as part of a Double Bill with Opera North’s Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini (1918).  Inspired by an episode in Dante’s Inferno, Puccini’s short opera Gianni Schicchi is an irresistible satyr play, set around the death-bed of a rich man.