Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

The Theory, Practice and Business of Opera Today

The School of Music and School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds have, over the past few years, enjoyed a close relationship with Opera North, the largest English opera company outside of London.

Following several successful partnership projects, Leeds University Centre for Opera Studies (LUCOS) believes the time is now ripe to propose a novel kind of international opera conference. We are looking for a stimulating mixture of practitioners and academics to debate key themes in the theory, practice, and business of opera today.

As a central aspect of this unique conference there will be a series of networking opportunities. A separate session will allow practitioners and academics working in various positions in the field of opera and opera production to exchange ideas, thoughts and contacts.

In this section:

Conference Programme

Thursday 12 April: The Business of Opera

Lecture Theatre 1, School of Music.

10:00 Registration

11:00 Welcome: Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North.

11:30 Keynote

  • “Artistry vs. Commerce: Verdi, Attila, and the Economics of Opera in 1840s Italy” – Helen Greenwald, New England Conservatory.

12:30 Lunch break

2:00 The Business of Opera (I)

  • “Can Technology Help Keep Opera Alive and Relevant to 21st Century Audiences?” – Jarlath Jennings (Trinity College Dublin)
  • “‘A Spider’s Web or Maybe a Teaching Hospital’: The Hidden Work of the Extended Opera Company” – Jennifer Daniel (University of Leeds)
  • “Opera Orchestral Musicians and Their Contracts” – George Kennaway (University of Leeds)

3:30 Tea/Coffee

4:00 The Business of Opera (II)

  • “The Living Archive” – Hugo Zanker (Opera North)
  • “Opera Crises in Berlin, London, and Paris” – Sarah Zalfen


15 free tickets (for the first delegates to register) and discounted tickets (for other delegates) for the Orchestra of Opera North (Russian Spectacular) at Huddersfield Town Hall. Conductor: Jac van Steen, Piano: Peter Donohoe.

  • Liadov: The Enchanted Lake
  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor Pathétique.

Talking Music starts at 6.40 PM; concert begins 7:30 PM.

Visit the Opera North website for further details and to book tickets.

Friday 13 April: Theory and Practice

Lecture Theatre 1, School of Music.

10:00 Staging Opera (I)

  • “Behind the Curtain: Shaping a New Siegfried” – Cordelia Chenault (Stony Brook University) [30 mins]
  • “Opera: A Queer Thing.” Daniel Somerville (University of Wolverhampton) [30 mins]
  • “Italian Opera at German Speaking Courts” – Christine Fischer (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis) [30 mins]

11:30 Tea/Coffee

Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall (CCCH)

11:45 Staging Opera (II)

  • “Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Anna Nicole from Page to Stage” – Susanna Stranders (Royal Opera House) [40 mins]
  • “Melos, Tingles and Vocal Prosthetics: Teasing Interactions Between Opera and Technology” – Christopher Newell (University of Hull) [30 mins]

1:00 Lunch break

2:00 Staging Opera (III)

  • “‘Though this be madness, yet there is method in it’: A Counterfactual Analysis of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser” – Ilias Chrissochoidis [30 mins]
  • Round Table: The Vienna Volksoper production of Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago – Lisa Feurzeig (Grand Valley State University), Stefan Frey (Theaterwissenschaft München), Birgit Meyer [90 mins]

4:00 Tea/Coffee

4:15 Screening Opera

  • Opera on Screen – PJ Harris and Laura Bineviciute (University of Leeds) [30 mins]
  • Round Table: Opera at the Cinema – Christopher Morris (University College Cork), Áine Sheil (University of York), Stefanie Huter (Company Manager, Royal Opera House) [90 mins]

6:15 end


  • Conference meal (pre-booking necessary).

Saturday 14 April: Opera Now

Alec Clegg Studio, School of Performance and Cultural Industries

10:00 Keynote

  • “Trends and Innovations in Opera” – Nicholas Payne, Director of Opera Europa.

11:10 Workshops at Alec Clegg Studio

  • “Patricia Kirkwood Is Angry” work in progress – Jessica Walker (Opera North and University of Leeds) [40 mins]
  • Pierrot Lunaire on Stage, or, How Small-scale Opera Productions Educate Performers and Audience Alike” – Matthias Wurz (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst and Co-Director of Ensemble Szene XX, Vienna) and Ches Themann (Opera Director, and Co-Director of Ensemble Szene XX) [40 mins]

12:30 Lunch break

1:30 Opera for Actors

  • El Gallo – Paul Barker (Composer, Central School of Speech and Drama) [60 mins]

2:30 Opera Today

  • “The World Opera: A Technical, Aesthetic, and Philosophical Introduction.” Jason E. Geistweidt and Niels W. Lund (Directors of The World Opera, University of Tromsø) [30 mins]
  • “Composing and Writing Opera Today.”  Lauren Redhead (University of Leeds), Adam Strickson (University of Leeds), Cheryl Frances-Hoad (Opera North) [30 mins]

3:30 Tea/Coffee

Clothworkers’ Centenary Concert Hall, School of Music

4:30 Plenary session

  • Panel debate followed by general discussion: N. Payne, K. Hunter, K. McKechnie, D. Scott, A. Belina. “Is it practicable to mix business, practice, and theory in the context of an academic conference? What are the problems and what are the gains?”

5:30 Conference Ends


Conference registration is now available.

The Theory, Practice and Business of Opera Today
School of Music
University of Leeds
12-14 April 2012

Full Price: £12 per day or £30 for the 3 x days
Students: £6 per day or £15 for the 3 x days

Click here to book your place at the University online store.


The conference will be held across the School of Music and the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds.

Other venues include Opera North, details of which will be announced soon.


Travel and Accomodation


The conference will take place at the University of Leeds, click here1 to see a campus map.

From Manchester Airport

Direct trains from Manchester Airport to Leeds Rail Station

View Larger Map (Walking Direction from Rail Station to Campus)

From Leeds Bradford Airport

Bus 757 to Leeds city centre every 30 mins.


Accommodation for this event The Theory, Practice and Business of Opera Today is now available for on-line delegate reservations.

Delegates may create new or amend existing reservations via www.ConferenceBookings.co.uk and entering the following event code: LDSOPERA2012

Alternatively they may click on this direct link to create new reservations: https://www.conferencebookings.co.uk/delegate/LDSOPERA2012

Leeds offers a number of bed and breakfast options from which to choose.

Nearby Cardigan Road also offers a choice of hotels: Boundary Hotel and Butlers Hotel

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