Observations: At home with Opera North

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The Independent Culture

Finally, a permanent home for Opera North, the award-winning company based in Leeds. As part of a three-year restoration of Leeds Grand theatre, the Howard Assembly Room reopens today for the first time in 20 years, in all its Victorian glory. Previously a debating hall, variety venue, and even, briefly, "gentleman's cinema", the original arched windows, barrel-vaulted ceiling and Gothic motifs have all been repaired.

Now a rehearsal space for the ON orchestra by day, the 350-seat hall will host an eclectic programme of film, spoken word, classical, folk, jazz, world music and musical theatre. Highlights of the 10-day opening celebration include Into the Little Hill, a darkly magical retelling of the Pied Piper fable; Armando Iannucci on his new satirical opera on cosmetic surgery, Skin Deep; and an installation by United Visual Artists.

www.howardassemblyroom.co.uk

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