Exciting ideas are emerging at a time when much face to face activity is on hold, and colleagues at University of Leeds and Opera North are thinking innovatively about how, by working together, we can increase public access to learning and creativity.

DARE Thinking With Opera  is a new series of podcasts. Each episode brings together an academic and an opera practitioner in a wide ranging and intimate conversation on a  different theme.

The first episode, Performing Violence, finds leading art historian and 2020 Holberg Prize Laureate Professor Griselda Pollock in conversation with Opera North’s Dominic Gray about representations of violence in painting, sculpture, film and literature; how it is performed in opera, and its implications.

“In cinema you are a spectator; in opera you are present. I’m fascinated by the notion that we witness in opera: we have to endure.” Griselda Pollock

Their discussion ranges from Ancient Greece to The Godfather, and focuses on the operas of Puccini and Verdi. It takes in the personal – from Professor Pollock’s first experience of opera, seeing Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi in Tosca at the Royal Opera House, and the reactions of her students to a performance of Madama Butterfly – and the political, touching on the performance of problematic works from the canon, and opera in the era of Black Lives Matter. Excerpts from Opera North’s 2018 staging of Madama Butterfly are featured, and accompanying notes link to images, clips and texts discussed.

Professor Frank Finlay, Dean of Cultural Engagement, University of Leeds said:

“Exploring opportunities to engage creatively and meaningfully during the lockdown period has been very important to us at the University and particularly at the Cultural Institute. Our partnership with Opera North offers us so many opportunities to reach out culturally in the city, and way beyond, and this series of podcasts does that brilliantly. Griselda Pollock is an internationally-renowned art historian and cultural theorist and the perfect interviewee for the inaugural podcast.”

Performing Violence is available now on SpotifyApple Podcasts and Soundcloud.


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