Radar: Opera in Liverpool

This article was updated on November 12 to update shows at the Liverpool Empire and FACT

We might frequently remark on how absurdly spoiled we are in Liverpool by the embarrassment of theatrical and artistic riches. But there are still a couple of genres we don’t do quite as well at.

Opera. You don’t see a lot of opera in Liverpool. Soap opera, certainly, at the bus-stops, in the supermarkets and the street-corner pubs. But Madame Butterfly, Don Giovanni and Otello are rare visitors to Liverpool.

However, all of that is changing. The Liverpool Empire will host the Welsh National Opera this Autumn for a series of performances of La Boheme and Jephtha – not to mention Falstaff at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion – while next month Liverpool Cathedral has some sort of beer -sponsored re-imaging of opera for a new generation in the stunning Well area.

What’s more – and what’s possibly a more accessible offering – you can watch numerous operas form all around the world via the magic of satellite link-ups, from Glyndebourne, Salzburg Festival, Opera Australia and the Metropolitan Opera, at Picturehouse at Fact throughout the rest of 2012.

For those not familiar, this means essentially watching the performance as live on the cinema screens. Having been present for some of FACT”s National Theatre link-ups, we feel safe to say that this really is as good as it gets without actually being there.

What’s more, if you miss the as-live performances you can frequently catch up with an encore performance a day or so later.

What’s that? Opera’s only for buffs? Certainly it’s not. Dodge the Ring Cycle and go for one of the more accessible operas. La Boheme, Don Giovanni or The Magic Flute should be enjoyable by most. Bear in mind some will come in at a bum-numbing four hours plus, however.

For those seeking something more challenging there’s Berlioz’s rarely-performed Les Troyens, a lauded production of The Fairy Queen and some of Verdi’s and Mozart’s less vaunted works.

Opera may not be the most obviously accessible of art forms, but the next six months offers a number of routes into one of the most elegant.

And, really, underneath the costumes and singing and make-up, these stories will be more than recognisable to anyone who’s seen Eastenders, or watched a real-life soap opera played out in one of Liverpool’s real-life theatres.

La Clemenza di Tito
Picturehouse at FACT
1-4 December

Un Ballo in Maschera
Picturehouse at FACT
8-11 December

Aida (2012)
Picturehouse at FACT
15-18 December

Check website for details

La Boheme
Liverpool Empire
21-24 November

Jeptha
Liverpool Empire
20 November

Cosi Fan Tutte
Liverpool Empire
22 November

check website for more details

Don Giovanni
New Brighton Floral Pavilion
12 October

Opera di Peroni
Liverpool Cathedral
15-16 August