Leeds University Library

Opera North Archives Open

Published Monday 10 July 2017

Composite image of three Opera North posters

Special Collections launch extensive archive

Special Collections has launched the extensive archive collection of northern England premier opera company, Opera North.

Following a 10 month archiving project, the catalogue of the Opera North Archive is now available to search online. Researchers can visit Special Collections to view p-Production files, programmes, press files and posters that reveal the creative context behind the company's dynamic and varied productions.

Originally set up as English National Opera North in 1977 to stage high quality opera for audiences in northern England, Opera North is an innovative, vibrant arts organisation. Based at the Grand Theatre in Leeds, the company's first performance was Saint-Saƫns' compelling work 'Samson and Delilah' on 15 November 1978. The company also tours throughout Europe and performs at major international festivals.

Julia O'Sullivan, Head of Communications at Opera North said, "We're delighted to see our collection of historic material come to life and be accessible to all through the Specials Collection archive as part of our ongoing partnership with the University of Leeds.

"We hope this collection will prove to be a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of Opera North, one of the largest producing companies outside of London, as well as those investigating the development of the technical and cultural aspects of theatre and staging since 1978."

People can search the production files to discover how directors and stage managers used scenery, props and lighting to create dramatic effects in different productions.

Cultural researchers will find the programmes provide in-depth information about composers and often the story behind the composition of works. The programmes include short biographies and interesting details about the careers of performers. The advertisements featured give social and local historians valuable insights into Yorkshire culture and society.

Researchers can also examine technical diagrams which record significant new developments and ideas in the staging of events. The choice of shows performed and their popularity with audiences reflect social and cultural changes over several decades.

The collection also contains posters, press files, administrative documents and correspondence.

The Opera North Archive is part of Special Collections' extensive Theatre and Performance Collections.

If you are interested in exploring the collection, please contact Special Collections to organise the retrieval of items two working days in advance of your visit.