Second dementia friendly matinee performance to air at Leeds Grand Theatre

A popular dementia friendly event is set to return to Leeds next week following the success of its 2019 opening.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:45 pm

Opera North will present its second dementia friendly matinee performance at Leeds Grand Theatre at 1.30pm next Tuesday (October 26).

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Following on from the success of its dementia friendly performance of La bohème in 2019, the company has chosen to offer Bizet’s compelling masterpiece Carmen this season as it features some of the most easily recognisable tunes in opera.

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Staff have been provided with training to help ensure they can best aid any struggling attendees. Picture: Anthony Robling.

The show is designed to offer people living with dementia alongside their families and caregivers a chance at a safe day out and to enjoy some live opera.

Music can have a positive effect on those living with dementia by reducing anxiety, tapping into memories and encouraging a response even when verbal abilities have been lost.

The work will be performed in its entirety, but the experience will differ from other performances with reduced lighting and noise contrast, low level lighting in the auditorium and a relaxed approach to audience members coming and going during the show.

There will also be a quiet room set aside for those who need it, increased signage to help people navigate their way around a potentially unfamiliar setting, and plenty of staff to ensure everyone feels at ease.

The matinee will be performed with the use of reduced lighting and noise contrast to best make the occasion as enjoyable as possible for those in attendance. Picture: Anthony Robling.

Discussing the 2019 show Alice Gilmour, Community Partnerships & Access Manager, Opera North, said: “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and convinced us of the value of offering cultural experiences for people living with dementia and their families and carers, who often encounter barriers to living life to the full.

“We are delighted to be holding our second dementia friendly performance and look forward to many more in the future.”

The opening of the new Bramall Education Studio in Opera North’s redeveloped home, the Howard Opera Centre, has enabled the Education team to start running regular social get-togethers for people living with dementia.

Held monthly in collaboration with Peer Support Service, these give people a chance to spend time with each other in a welcoming and supportive setting. In addition to plenty of tea and chat, they are able to enjoy a variety of musical activities led by soprano Marie Claire Breen, and craft sessions with members of the Costume department which have included making a corsage to wear to Carmen.

Deborah Marshall, Peer Support Service Coordinator, said: “We are pleased to build on our established partnership with Opera North and to offer more cultural experiences for people living with dementia, their caregivers, families and friends.

“The new social engagement sessions create opportunities for people to meet with their peers and engage in meaningful activity in a relaxed and welcoming space.”

The dementia friendly performance of Carmen is supported by the McLay Dementia Trust and Victoria Leeds which became Opera North’s first Access Ambassador in 2019 enabling more people in Leeds to engage with opera and live performance.

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