THE PARTY by Russell Plows & Lente Verelst

Coming in 2024

An immersive opera by Lente Verelst & Russell Plows in which you are a character…

Including and inspired by stories told by the people of Hull



The second instalment in our immersive BUMPS series, this time at a secret Whitefriargate location. Audiences discovered new operas Crocodile by Lente Verelst & Whistle & I’ll Come to You My Lad by Louis Mander as well as a touching playlet based on Myla Jo Closser’s vision of the afterlife, At The Gate.

Audiences described the show as “absolutely exhilarating” and “like being on Derren Brown’s ‘Trick or Treat'”.

Punch from Crocodile by Lente Verelst. Designed by Jason Southgate for HUO
It Must Have Been a Tuesday by Hull Urban Opera



At this storytelling event, Poppy Shotts, Joanna Gamble & Alex Grainger crafted a 10-minute true story from their lives which they then told live to a small, intimate audience. Since singers have an expanded range of expression, about a third of each story was set to music by Russell Plows, accompanied by Ellie Gaynard Evans on violin, resulting in a free-flow between speech and singing.

Audiences responded strongly to the performance describing it as “brave and honest” and “very moving”.



This HUO opera commission with music by Lente Verelst & libretto by Lena Vercauteren came about as a request from HUO audiences for something “really scary”. Inspired by the form of Samuel Beckett’s Play, Crocodile imagines the characters of Punch & Judy transposed to modern day and unendingly reenacting their misdemeanours.

Audience reaction ranged from “one of the best digital operas created in lockdown” to “unbridled nastiness”. Opera Critic Alexandra Coghlan described the work as “very dark and very clever”.

*Crocodile was recently acquired by Sky Arts for future TV broadcast.

Crocodile by Lente Verelst, Hull Urban Opera

“Absolutely exhilarating”

See us in action



Since there is little opera tradition in Hull, audiences are not bound to a notion of repertoire but stand ready to engage with a vital, living and infinitely mutable art-form. This allows us at Hull Urban Opera to tip our focus towards new opera built for the city whilst dipping into great works of the past.

The company is run on principles of fairness and equality which inform everything from casting, auditions and pay to repertoire and venues. We welcome approaches from artists from groups which are less well represented in opera and we continue to champion the work of female composers.

Practical promises

We promise the people of Hull, East Yorkshire and beyond, that we at HUO will always be cognisant that we spend public money and that our work will always be accessible in venue, disability access, price, subject matter and types of engagement.

Artistic promises

We promise to be friendly, welcoming and playful in our engagement with audiences and to share with them an exciting journey of discovery and experimentation inspired by our ongoing dialogue.

Our work, whether indoor, outdoor or in workshop form, may entertain, challenge and provoke but is always founded on a passionate belief in communication.

HUO exists to create work which ignites in the people of Hull a passionate relationship with the visceral power of opera.

The HUO Collective

Hull Urban Opera is an expanding collective and currently comprises:

Artistic Director Russell Plows
Outreach Director Charlotte Fong
Administrator George Gooden
Music Director Sonia Ben-Santamaria
Designer Joseph Bisat Marshall
Designer Liz Dees
Makeup Venice Marshall

Composer Lente Verelst
Librettist Lena Vercauteren
Repetiteur Caroline Blair

Soprano Poppy Shotts
Soprano Kimberley Raw
Mezzo Joanna Gamble
Tenor Alex Grainger
Baritone Edward Robinson
Bass-baritone Neil Balfour

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Hull Urban Opera