NORTHERN Opera Group have announced their “re-imagined” Leeds Opera Festival for the Bank Holiday weekend, from August 28 until September 1.

Lockdown left the company with little option but to roll back by 12 months the entire programme they had spent nearly a year planning. A major exhibition uncovering the hidden history of opera in the city has been shelved until August 2021; but the “Leeds Opera Story” will still flavour next month’s re-imagined festival.

David Ward, Northern Opera Group’s artistic director said: “We have remained determined to bring our audiences and performers a festival in whatever form was achievable within social distancing guidelines.”

The re-imagined programme is a testament to ingenuity - an exciting hybrid of digital and live performances that are free for all to enjoy. Opera North principal singer, John Savournin, directs and David Ward conducts Thomas Arne’s opera Thomas and Sally. This one-act comedy was hugely popular with audiences in 18th century Leeds. 250 years of opera in the city will be distilled into a lunchtime concert and audiences will be able to enjoy popular songs from 18th century ballad operas, in the historic pubs and courtyards of old Leeds. Award-winning Made with Music will present a session for young people and families live on Facebook.

YouTube events include a Daily Singing “Workout” and international discussions on the challenges of producing an urban opera festival. Composer Lewis Murphy and librettist Laura Attridge’s new work ARC23 will be premiered next year by Leeds Youth Opera. Murphy and Attridge will lead a YouTube discussion on the process of writing an opera.

The digital dimension to this year’s festival will undoubtedly widen audience participation and should attract some international kudos along the way.

All events are free to attend, however the organisers are asking audiences to consider making a donation in support of the Festival. Venue details will be announced over the coming days. These will be in the light of the government’s latest guidance on the phased reopening of halls and theatres from 1st August. Visit Leeds Opera Festival for regular updates at

Geoffrey Mogridge