In August 2020, 300 years of operatic history in Leeds came to life as part of a new exhibition and website – the Leeds Opera Story.

Curated by Northern Opera Group as part of the Leeds Opera Festival 2020.



Please note: the in person exhibition has been postponed due to Covid-19, and is now due to take place in August 2021

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

English Ballad Opera

In August 2020 we brough 18th century English ballad opera back to the venues where they were first performed in Leeds - pubs and public spaces!

With bass-baritone Neil Balfour, and violinist Chloe Hayward

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 due to take place in August 2021.


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 ([email protected]) 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 ([email protected]) to discuss.