ETO tour hits Harrogate

NADV 1210262AM3 Vocalis Choir. Musical director Edmund Aldhouse with the choir. (1210262AM3)
NADV 1210262AM3 Vocalis Choir. Musical director Edmund Aldhouse with the choir. (1210262AM3)

It’s a big weekend for opera fans in the district as English Touring Opera arrives in Harrogate to present a series of shows over three nights, writes Graham Chalmers.

Starting tonight, Thursday, the ETO shows promises thrills, spills and humour and include Benjamin Britten’s social comedy Albert Herring; Peter Maxwell Davies’ thriller The Lighthouse.and the incredible comedy The Emperor Of Atlantis, composed by Viktor Ullmann in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944.

Talented Harrogate singers will be lending their voices to one of the evenings giving one of the shows a real local feel.

Two choirs - Harrogate Vocalis, made of adults of various ages, and 12 children from Harrogate Grammar School, aged 12 and upwards, are to join forces in the special song cycle called Towards an Unknown Port, which has been newly written for ETO’s tour by English composer Helen Chadwick.

The song cycle will be performed as a free pre-show event for ticket-holders before The Emperor of Atlantis this Saturday, November 3, and features lyrics adapted from poetry written by children in the Terezin concentration camp, where Ullmann’s opera was written during WWII.

The three operas, performed one each night over ETO’s three-night stay at Harrogate Theatre and led by the Aurora Orchestra (recently heard accompanying Wallace & Gromit at the BBC Proms), couldn’t be more different.

The other two are:

Britten’s satire Albert Herring (Harrogate Theatre, Thursday, November 1) is the tale of a shy local lad elected as May King when the village girls fail to come up to snuff as May Queen. Christopher Rolls directs, with much-lauded conductor of Britten Michael Rosewell wielding the baton.

Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse (Harrogate Theatre, Friday, November 2) is a brilliant thriller which follows the true-life disappearance of three lighthouse keepers one foggy Christmas. Young American Theodore (Ted) Huffman directs, and Richard Baker conducts.

For tickets, telephone 01423 502116 or book online at