Henry Filloux-Bennett appointed executive director in ‘pivotal moment for Opera North’

Henry Filloux-Bennett: New executive director at Opera North. Picture: Samantha Toolsie

HENRY Filloux-Bennett is leaving HOME to be the new executive director at Opera North in Leeds from May 2023.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Opera North,” he says. “Having had a long connection with the company, from first seeing them at the Theatre Royal and Concert Hall in Nottingham to then working with them at The Lowry in Salford, and more recently at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, the prospect of joining as executive director at this really exciting – but also challenging – time is one I absolutely relish.”

Filloux-Bennett, who turned 40 last month, is at present executive director and deputy chief executive officer of HOME, the arts centre, cinema, theatre and gallery complex in Manchester. Previously, he was chief executive and artistic director of the Lawrence Batley Theatre; before that, head of marketing at The Lowry; earlier, head of marketing and communications at Nottingham Playhouse.

Filloux-Bennett also has worked as a producer and general manager for organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Theatre Royal Haymarket and Bill Kenwright Ltd.

As an author and playwright, he wrote the award-winning Nigel Slater’s Toast, commissioned by The Lowry and subsequently transferred to the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, The Other Place in London, plus a UK tour.

In 2020, his stage version of What A Carve Up!, based on Jonathan Coe’s novel, was chosen as one of the Guardian’s Top 10 theatre shows and the Telegraph’s Top 50 Cultural Events of the year.

In Covid-shrouded 2021, he adapted Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray, starring Fionn Whitehead and Joanna Lumley in a digital production for Barn Theatre/Lawrence Batley Theatre that was seen in more than 70 countries.

Opera North general manager Richard Mantle, left, with new executive director Henry Filloux-Bennett. Picture: Samantha Toolsie

He then co-wrote the original screenplay Going The Distance, starring Sarah Hadland, Shobna Gulati and Matthew Kelly in a digital comedy co-produced by the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Oxford Playhouse, The Dukes, Lancaster, and Watermill Theatre, Newbury.

Opera North’s general manager, Richard Mantle, says: “I am delighted to announce that Henry Filloux-Bennett has been appointed as our new executive director, joining the company in May 2023. He brings with him a wealth of experience through his theatre career and as a writer.

“This is a pivotal moment in the history of Opera North as we develop our strategic priorities and re-build our way out of the impact of the pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis.

“Henry will be a key part of the leadership of Opera North into the future, bringing with him significant experience of business planning, budgetary and financial forecasting, programming, stakeholder management, commercial strategies and food and beverage hospitality. I am thrilled to be able to welcome Henry to the Opera North team and look forward to our collaboration as colleagues.”

Opera North, a national opera company based in Leeds since 1977, tours opera and musical theatre to theatres and concert halls across the north of England, including regular appearances in Leeds, Greater Manchester, Newcastle/Gateshead, Nottingham and Hull.

The company’s wide-ranging education and community partnerships work brings music and performance into the lives of communities across the region.

Opera North also operates and programmes the Howard Assembly Room, a 300-seat performance venue within the Leeds Grand Theatre building that offers an eclectic programme of world music, jazz and folk, classical, talks, film screenings and family events.

Opera North’s new restaurant and bar, Kino, opened last year on New Briggate, adjacent to the Howard Assembly Room and Grand Theatre.