Opera North’s Light up Lives

Opera North is asking for help to light up lives in schools, communities and homes by connecting people through music this Christmas.

Music can have such a positive impact on wellbeing, which is why Opera North continues to provide this form of entertainment and escapism at this particularly challenging time. In order to extend its work with local communities, connected their musicians with some of the most vulnerable and isolated people, the Company need some more support.

So far, performances have been arranged in 20 care homes in and around Leeds as part of Arts Together for Care Homes. At St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax, refugee and asylum seeker families have enjoyed a socially distanced performance of Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel and Gretel.

“The pandemic has isolated all of us, especially the elderly, and has caused a real challenge for artists. It was a very unique experience and a pleasure to perform for the care homes and create a connection.”
Natalie Anastasia, Performer for Arts Together for Care Homes projects.

The basics of singing opera have been learned by more than 4,000 people so far, through the Company’s From Couch to Chorus initiative. People in their own homes who have been missing their choir practices or are keen to acquire a new skill have been joining Zoom sessions. One heartfelt comment came from a participant who said: “In this Covid time, it was just heart-warming to sing again in safety at home.”

Abel Selacoe at The Corn Exchange

Planned activities in the North include:

As You Are, a soundwalk for Leeds composed by Abel Selaocoe and featuring the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North. Designed to be experienced through headphones, it will ‘encourage people to explore the city in a new and exciting way while enjoying the healing power of walking’. The aim is to offer the walk free of charge to those who will benefit the most.


Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella
will give schools and families the chance to watch the show free as an online alternative to a Christmas pantomime trip this year.

In Harmony Opera North school residency – following the National Curriculum, a Home Music Programme has been created which will offer online music learning to children from 7 to 11-years-old, including the opportunity to learn how to play an orchestral instrument with support from professional artists.

Whistle Stop Opera

Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North, said:
“The challenges of this year have been immense, affecting us all in different ways but forcing us to confront loss in its various forms; of certainty in our futures, of the things that sustain our happiness, and of the time spent with those we love. It is at times such as these that we come together around the things that bring the most light into our lives, and for many of us, this is music. We are determined to return to live performance and to resume touring opera as soon as we are able but, whatever challenges we face, we remain committed to using music to create extraordinary experiences every day for and with the communities we serve. Any donations towards our work will be very gratefully received as they will enable us to continue to impact even more lives across the North of England and further afield.”

• £15 could help the In Harmony team create online singing resources for children to access from home

• £50 could enable a group of young care leavers to experience the healing power of As You Are, our Leeds soundwalk

• £150 could delight care home residents and staff with their very own outdoor performance

• £500 could help film our magical Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella for schools and families across the North this Christmas.

People can make a donation online at operanorth.co.uk/support-us/donate/light-up-lives/ or by calling Opera North on 0113 223 3553

Photographs provided by Opera North. Feature photograph launched the Light up Lives campaign.

Leeds Living