A larger-than-life character, a heart-stopping romance and a zany look at climate change arrive in Newcastle this autumn as Opera North brings its Green Season to the Theatre Royal.

Falstaff, Verdi’s take on Shakespeare’s lovable rogue is first up on Tuesday 31 October. In this new production, the action is transported to the 1980s where Falstaff, having fallen on hard times, has his eye on a couple of rich wives as his passport to a brighter future. Unfortunately for him, the ladies are no fools and have already decided to teach him a lesson he will never forget. After playing Parson in The Cunning Little Vixen, Henry Waddington returns to Opera North to take on the title role: “Fat, old, lazy, selfish, lecherous, broke and pretty cunning, Sir John Falstaff is one of the greatest comic characters in theatre so to get a chance to perform this role is both a joy and an honour.”

Wednesday 1 and Friday 3 November are the dates for romance as Puccini’s La rondine takes to the stage. As the composer of La bohème and Madama Butterfly, Puccini is no stranger to passion in all its guises. In La rondine (The Swallow), Magda, the mistress of a wealthy banker, takes flight with the young Ruggero risking everything for her heart’s desire – but will there be a fairytale ending to her pursuit of love? James Hurley directs this new production which whisks audiences from the stylish salons of 1930s Paris to the carefree world of the French Riviera. Soprano Galina Averina sings Magda alongside tenor Sébastien Guèze as Ruggero.

Completing the season on Saturday 4 November is a brand-new work titled Masque of Might which ‘repurposes’ the music of baroque composer Purcell, bringing together the well-known and rarely-performed to create a tale of environmental depredation at the hands of an evil dictator who foolishly underestimates the power of nature. Using the format of a masque, the seventeenth century’s version of a variety show, Sir David Pountney has created a witty parable which both questions and celebrates our relationship with the natural world: I very much hope to offer the audience a serious evening delivered with a twinkle, and of course a sumptuous banquet of less familiar Purcell music.”

The Green Season has seen Opera North investigating how to stage opera as sustainably as possible by interrogating supply chains, lighting rigs, touring logistics and costume designs, and using the sets and props from previous productions kept at the Company’s Scenic Stores in Leeds. Set designer Leslie Travers is an Opera North regular. Designing the sets for all three productions has involved revisiting much of his previous work: “I love this history of the shows we’ve done together, and I’ve loved giving them another life for the Green Season. Falstaff, for example, features windows from Figaro which we’ve resized and adapted, the sky from Orpheus at the back, and there are shelves full of objects that frame and comment on the action and reappear as elements in the sets of the other two operas.” Audiences are also invited to join Opera North on its green journey by choosing digital programmes and tickets at the checkout and travelling to the theatre by public transport where possible.

Opera North’s Green Season will be at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, from Tuesday 31 October to Saturday 4 November. Tickets are available from £20 with discounts available for anyone New to Opera and Under 30s. After Newcastle, the shows will tour to Nottingham and Salford.

For more information and to book tickets, please visit


Tue 31 Oct                              7.00pm                                                      Falstaff

Wed 1 Nov                             7.00pm                                                      La rondine

Thu 2 Nov                                7.00pm                                                      Falstaff                           Audio described

Fri 3 Nov                                  7.00pm                                                      La rondine

Sat 4 Nov                                 7.00pm                                                      Masque of Might

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