Bradford, a city steeped in history and cultural richness, is set to host an exciting new event that combines the timeless beauty of opera with the distinct charm of our Yorkshire dialect. The world premiere of celebrated poet, playwright, and broadcaster Ian McMillan’s adaptation of Rossini’s comedic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville, is set to take centre stage at the inaugural Bradford Opera Festival. This exciting adaptation will be performed in a Yorkshire dialect, showcasing the region’s unique linguistic and artistic heritage.
A Yorkshire twist on Rossini’s classic
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is a beloved classic, known for its humorous take on themes of class, marriage, mischief, and young love. The opera follows the story of Count Almaviva, who enlists the help of the resourceful Figaro to win the heart of the beautiful Rosina, kept under lock and key by her guardian, Doctor Bartolo, with marriage intentions of his own.
McMillan is known for his work on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb and his extensive contributions to the world of literature and entertainment. He has crafted this Yorkshire dialect adaptation of the opera, which promises to be an experience to remember. His enthusiasm for the project is clear:
“I am really excited to be adapting ‘The Barber of Seville’ into Yorkshire dialect because it is an opera that was just made for the poetic tones of The Sublime Tyke Talk!”
The production, directed by Alex Chisholm and conducted by Ben Crick, features a talented cast, including international baritone Oscar Castellino as Figaro, mezzo-soprano Felicity Buckland as Rosina, Shipley tenor Joseph Doody as Count Almaviva, Bradford bass-baritone Julian Close as Basilio, and Ukrainian soprano Milana Sarukhanyan as Bertha. The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and Bradford Festival Choral Society will provide the musical backdrop to this extraordinary musical numbers.
Chisholm explained a little more about the inspiration for this production:
“Six years in the making, we are delighted to be presenting the first ever Bradford Opera Festival. And Ian McMillan’s version of The Barber of Seville is the perfect piece to start with – Yorkshire to the core, it has love, marriage, class, rebellion, and some great tunes. Alongside new work popping up all over Bradford, and opportunities to get involved, The Barber of Seville really has something for everyone.”
A festival rooted in Bradford
The Barber of Seville will serve as the opening event of the Bradford Opera Festival, which aims to bring opera to Bradford audiences in a way that reflects the city’s unique character and identity. The festival is the brainchild of Ben Crick and Alex Chisholm, who previously collaborated on the successful production Ice Cream: The Opera in 2017. This event garnered significant attention, inspiring the duo to establish a homegrown opera festival featuring both classic operas reimagined for Bradford and new works by local artists.
In addition to staging The Barber of Seville, the festival is dedicated to finding and training opera talent within Bradford’s community. It will offer workshops for families and young people, as well as creating ‘chota operas’ designed by and for children and community groups.
This year’s festival will also feature two 15-minute pop-up operas: Perfume by Alya Al-Sultani and Bradford writer Kamal Kaan, which explores a sensual, romantic encounter, and The Last Gift by Ben Crick and Khadijah Ibrahiim, intertwining the stories of Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia and his son, raised in exile in Leeds. Both operas will pop up in shopping centres and community settings as part of Bradford’s Music Month.
A night to remember
This world premiere promises to be a cultural milestone, blending the magic of opera with the distinctive character of Bradford and Yorkshire dialect. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this unforgettable evening of music, comedy, and love when it takes the stage at St George’s Hall in Bradford on Thursday 23 November, at 7.30 pm.
Bradford Opera Festival is on a mission to infuse opera with a touch of Bradford, and this premiere is just the beginning. With a commitment to nurturing local talent and bringing the arts to the heart of the community, the festival is set to create a lasting legacy for opera in Bradford. Join the opera revolution and be part of this fantastical journey into the world of music and culture.
Tickets are available from the Bradford Theatres box office.