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300 years of operatic history in Leeds come to life as part of a new exhibition and website – the Leeds Opera Story.

Curated by Northern Opera Group.


Leeds Opera Story in concert

Songs significant to the history of opera in Leeds, recorded as part of the 2020 Leeds Opera Festival

With soprano Louise Wayman, and pianist David Ward


A new opera film written by composer Carmel Smickersgill and librettist Emma Hill based on the Leeds Opera Story

Find the forgotten theatres of Leeds!


The Leeds Opera Story is an exhibition and website that will uncover the hidden history of opera in the city – starting with the first operas to have been performed in Leeds during the 18th Century.

It will explore the singers, conductors and companies who first brought opera to Leeds, how tastes in opera have changed over time, and the forgotten theatres across the city which first hosted performances.

Our online exhibition is now live, with an in person exhibition taking place 23 - 30 August at Leeds Corn Exchange.



We’re looking for a team of volunteers to take part in the project. Activities will include interviewing people who’ve played a significant role in the operatic life of Leeds, exploring archive materials housed with our partners (including Leeds Museums and the West Yorkshire Archive Service), and supporting the curation of the final exhibition.

Please contact Louise Garner ( to express your interest.



Do you have stories about your own experience of opera in Leeds that you’d like to share? We want to hear not only from artists, but from audiences who’ve experienced the changing face (and sound!) of opera over time. Do you have archive materials, programmes, recordings, that might be useful for the project?

Please contact David Ward ( to discuss.

Exhibition partners

Leeds Corn Exchange, Leeds Libraries, Leeds Museums, University of Leeds, West Yorkshire Archive Service

Main image

The Original Chinese Conjuror (Northern Opera Group, August 2018)

credit: Pelly & Me Photography

Exhibition curated by

Northern Opera Group



Supported by

National Lottery Heritage Fund


Leeds Inspired, part of Leeds City Council




David Ward (Artistic Director)


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