Theatre in Wales

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WELSH NATIONAL OPERA Opening season at the Wales Millennium Centre     

WELSH NATIONAL OPERA Opening season at the Wales Millennium Centre As the Welsh National Opera approaches its 60th birthday, (a fine achievement and one that will take a long time for any of the other theatre producing companies in Wales to catch up, if ever), it will launch its first ever opera performance on the spectacular new stage of the Wales Millennium Centre: “one of the most exciting arts buildings to be built in Europe in decades”.

At the offices of the WNO, now based at the WMC, there is a palpable atmosphere of great excitement and anticipation. They are all eagerly looking forward to Friday February 18th. On that date they will open the new season with the company’s music director, Carlo Rizzi conducting a reprise of the 2004 production Verdi’s La Traviata directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser. This well loved opera, brimming with unforgettable, famous melodies, tells this tragic tale of love as a story of our time in a beautiful contemporary setting. Will Christian Fenouillat’s design be even more sumptuous in this new, much larger environment than at the New Theatre?

The production is sponsored by Coutts and Co, the private bank and supported by a gift from Mrs John Oldacre. It is a co-production with Opéra de Lausanne, sung in Italian it will have surtitles in both English and Welsh.

Other performances of La Traviata will take place on Saturday 26th February, Wednesday 9th & Friday11th March 7.15pm and on Sunday 6th March at 4pm.

This will be followed on Saturday 19th February with a new production of Berg’s Wozzeck, supported by the WNO partnership and The Garfield Weston Foundation. It will reunite Olivier Award-winning duo of conductor Vladimir Jurowski and director Richard Jones. Wozzeck is regarded as a cornerstone of 20th century opera, it is one of the most perfect and immediate pieces of music theatre and is a great masterpiece of tremendous power. Sung in German with English and Welsh surtitles it is a co-production with Komische Opera.

Other performances of Wozzeck Friday 25th February, Saturday 12th March 8pm.

On Tuesday March 8th the season is rounded off with the WNO’s much loved production of revenge, infidelity and passion, Cavelleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. This was the first ever evening of opera performed by the newly formed Welsh National Opera back in 1946. Originally directed by Elijah Moshinsky, these performances will be conducted by Carlo Rizzi. The second performance takes place on Thursday 10th March 7.15pm.

Songlines: Young people from the South Wales valleys have created new song cycles inspired by each opera in this season. They will share their lyrics, music and perspective with everyone in foyer performances during the hour preceding each first night.
Explore Opera: Come and find out how singers rehearse and learn about the characters and themes from La Traviata. Two hours of operatic fun (2pm – 4pm) will take place on Saturday 26th February.

On the opening Saturday of the WMC many members of the Opera company staff were available to visitors in t-shirts emblazoned with the motto ‘Ask me about Opera’ They had a great many enquiries from potential first time opera-goers. Top price tickets may be £35 but with other tickets available at £5 this really is opera for all

The company’s strong reputation has been established too long to describe this new stage in its development as a coming of age but with its home firmly established at the WMC it will reach the prime of its maturity and may soon be able to challenge the other great opera companies of the world. Now directly funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, it stands as the cultural icon of the nation. It can only be hoped that the great international prestige the opera company will continue to win, will encourage the WAG to create a lyric theatre company of similar status and the resources to support more creative achievement in drama of an International status. There is certainly the talent within Wales to make this possible.
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Michael Kelligan
Friday, January 07, 2005back



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