Opera North is England's national opera company in the North and one of Europe's leading arts organisations. Based at Leeds Grand Theatre and it regularly performs in Salford, Newcastle, Belfast and Nottingham. The company also tours around Europe to cities which include Prague and Barcelona. Its orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, frequently performs and records independently.
Opera North was founded in 1977 as English National Opera North (ENO North). The company was established in response to a demand for more opera productions in English provincial cities. An offshoot of English National Opera, it was set up in Leeds.
ENO North's first performance was Saint-Saëns' 'Samson and Delilah' on 15 November 1978. David Lloyd-Jones was the founding Music Director from 1978-1991. From the beginning the company toured in England and Wales including seasons in London. In 1981 it adopted the name Opera North and cut its official links with English National Opera.
The company stages over 220 performances annually. Its performances over the years have encompassed world premieres, for example, 'Rebecca' by Wilfred Josephs (1983) and 'Baa, baa, black sheep' by Michael Berkeley (1993). It champions lesser known operas which are rarely seen in the United Kingdom including 'King Priam' by Michael Tippett (1991) and 'La voix humaine' by Poulenc (2006). Since 1989 the company has also performed musical theatre works such as 'Love Life' by Kurt Weill (1996) and 'Carousel' by Rodgers and Hammerstein (2012).