Batley opera to be premiered this weekend

The Batley Variations is being performed in the town this weekend.
The Batley Variations is being performed in the town this weekend.

A new contemporary opera is to be premiered this weekend, narrating 24 hours in the life of Batley and its people.

Two of the four shows of The Batley Variations, which is being funded by Arts Council England, are sold out, but tickets remain for the Saturday and Sunday night performances.

Billed as ‘the inside story of a northern town’, The Batley Variations is being produced by 509 Arts and will be performed from November 23-25, in a specially made new cabaret environment.

Starring a cast of around 50 people from the Batley community, it will feature songs about The Golden Mile, Batley Bulldogs, Fox’s Biscuits and Batley Market - as well as lesser-known personal stories, which have inspired the songs about all things important in the former mill town.

The songs have been written by Mike Kenny, known for his Olivier award-winning production of The Railway Children, and the music has been composed by Richard Taylor, recipient of two UK Theatre awards.

The Batley Variations has been commissioned by Batley Business Association and Creative Scene and will be premiered at St Mary’s Social Club, in the heart of the town.

Andrew Marsden, Chair of Batley Business Association, said: “We presented the very first Batley Does Opera in partnership with Opera North in 2016.

“Now, with massive support from Arts Council England through the National Lottery, we have commissioned something just as impressive and entirely born out of the people and stories here.

“We have a cast of more than 50 people including school children from Batley Grammar, Carlinghow Primary and Batley Parish, a factory worker, photographer and many more all joining together to bring this professional production to the town. The standard is so high - we have so much talent in Batley and the transformation of St Mary’s Social Club into a glamorous northern cabaret venue just has to be experienced.”

Nancy Barrett, director of Creative Scene, the Arts Council England project which produces and commissions first-class arts and cultural events in the area, said: “Batley is not just any northern town - it has got a fantastic heritage and a really vibrant community, and its spirit and diversity is going to be celebrated in this unique production.

“This is going to be something really special - St Mary’s Social Club will be transformed into a spectacular cabaret environment for this musical and visual feast.”

Performances take place from the 23-25 November. Tickets are still available for Saturday 24 November at 7.30pm and Sunday 25 November at 7.30pm. The Friday night show and Sunday matinee are now sold out.

Tickets and details from www.creativescene.org.uk or can be bought at St Mary’s Social Club, Melton Street, Batley.