From: Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North.
I AM very grateful to Richard Thomas for his kind and generous comments about the excellent quality of performances by Opera North and our orchestra. It is worth saying that Opera North is unique amongst opera companies in the UK in combining a major programme of large-scale opera with an extensive symphonic programme – worthy of any major European opera company.
I believe that it is this breath of work which has enabled the orchestra of Opera North to become one of the finest orchestral ensembles in this country, under the leadership of Richard Farnes, and we are fortunate that we can call Leeds our home.
The suggestion of Royal status is a generous one, though not something which we at Opera North should necessarily seek for ourselves.
If we were to be “Royal” I just wonder what we would all make of our new name – Royal Opera North or “RON”!
However I think it is entirely right that Leeds should consider how best to recognise the fine music-making emanating from this City, especially at the time when we are beginning to think about the possibility of Leeds seeking true European status as City of Culture in 2023.
What better way recognition could there be but to build a wonderful new concert hall for this great city? Leeds is now on a roll but by comparison to many other British cities, we gravely lack such a facility. Gateshead/Newcastle has the Sage, Manchester the Bridgewater Hall and Birmingham its Symphony Hall; with all due respect to the Leeds Town Hall, we do not have a hall with acoustic and public amenities worthy of top quality music performance and one fit for purpose for our contemporary times. It is time for Leeds to take a lead. If Opera North is a jewel in the Leeds crown, then surely a new inspiring concert hall can be another?