Opera North has announced Switch ON; a programme of new outdoor events and digital projects to take place this autumn, which will see it visiting Allendale next week, embodying the company’s commitment to make music with and for audiences in communities across the North of England.

This activity respects the latest government guidelines on social distancing and live performances, which are not currently permitted to take place indoors. The company plans further announcements in the coming weeks of concerts and staged opera either live or available digitally as it responds to the changing guidelines.

The new Switch ON projects include As You Are, a new soundwalk for Leeds by South African cellist and composer Abel Selaocoe, which will open in November; a digital premiere for Will Todd’s new community opera, Song of Our Heartland; a new animation re-interpreting La bohème to be shown in cities across the North in the run up to Christmas; and an outdoor tour for family audiences of Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel and Gretel, beginning on Tuesday and coming to Allendale Village Hall, on Tueday, August 25 at 6.30pm.

Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel and Gretel will be performed in an outdoor setting with social distancing in place for audience members and performers and limited numbers of tickets on sale in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.

Tickets will be on sale for ‘pods’ of up to five people, with each space due to include two seats and a floor mat.

The performance is suitable both for adults and for family audiences.

Richard Mantle, general director, Opera North, said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to announce such varied projects today as the first newly planned activity for this autumn. Switch ON is our first step back to sharing music and performance with audiences in villages, towns and cities across the North of England. We have not been silent during lockdown, with thousands of people from around the world engaging with films of our work online.”

“The overall picture regarding live indoor performances remains unclear over the next few months. We hope to be able to plan and present more live performance of great opera and music for audiences across our region, in as many different cities and communities as possible, once we are able to perform within social distancing guidelines. We are currently undertaking detailed planning with our partner venues in Leeds and beyond to ensure that we will be ready to restart performances safely and with financial viability, once there is a clear green light from the Government.

“Tickets for Switch ON events will all be accessibly priced and we hope as many people as possible will have the opportunity to experience music with us either live or digitally."

He added: “We remain committed to our purpose and whatever challenges we face, Opera North will continue to use music to create extraordinary experiences every day for and with the communities we serve. Live or digitally, in classrooms, theatres, homes and public spaces; we will continue to share music with people of all ages and backgrounds.”