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New Responses to Old Operas


We are pleased to announce a call-out for composers, lyricists and songwriters, for two new music theatre commissions – each taking a new approach in response to opera’s past.


We’re looking for composers, lyricists and songwriters who are interested in telling a story through music and words (the essence of what opera is!). This may be a short story in itself, a character monologue, a revealing conversation between characters from the past and the present … the exact form the commission takes is up to you.


We’re looking for short (around 5 minute) music theatre pieces, with no more than 4 musicians, which will be recorded for online broadcast, and performed live in 2021. We welcome artists from different musical backgrounds, and will accept applications from existing songwriting teams, or individual composers, lyricists and songwriters.


No previous experience of writing for, or great knowledge of, opera is required. Northern Opera Group’s Artistic Director will work closely with each selected artist to provide the operatic background and context to fulfil each commission.


Artists are able to apply for both commissions available, should they wish. The commissions available are in response to


1) The Leeds Opera Story – our heritage project exploring the 300 year history of opera in Leeds. We’re looking for artists to respond to this heritage, drawing a connection between the art form’s, and the city’s, past and present (and maybe future!). The piece might focus on a particular opera important to Leeds, an artist or company who visited the city, or a story from one of the city’s old theatres; the choice is up to you. Visit our online exhibition to learn more – leedsoperastory.co.uk.


We are prioritising applicants from, or with a strong connection to, Leeds for this commission


2) Savriti (1916, words and music by Gustav Holst) – this short, three person opera is based on the episode of Savitri and Satyavan from the Mahābhārata, and will be performed at our 2021 Leeds Opera Festival. We’re looking for artists to respond to this opera, which may be a retelling of the original story, a contemporary monologue based on its themes, or a response to Holst’s interpretation of Indian classical music.


We are prioritising applicants from a South Asian background for this commission


To apply, please


- write a short (no more than 2 x A4) statement outlining your interest in the project, and an overview of your previous experience. At this stage, it is not necessary to outline the subject you would like to commission/s to take, but you are welcome to submit any initial ideas should you wish


- include links to your previous work, or enclose attachments of your music / writing with the application


- ensure that the application includes your name, and at least one of an email address and telephone number (ideally both)


- include a CV should you already have one (there is no requirement to provide one, however you are welcome to should you wish)


Please send submissions, or feel free to ask any questions, to David Ward (Artistic Director) – [email protected]


The fee for composers is £1,250, and for librettists is £310, to create a piece of around 5 minutes with a maximum of four musicians.


The deadline is noon on 31 October 2020, with the commissions expected to be completed between 15 November and 15 December 2020.

Savitri marketing image, 2021 Leeds Opera Festival