Theatre in Wales

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WNO’s Spring Season – Diamonds and Dolphins     

On 15th April 2006, WNO will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its first ever performance in 1946. This special Spring Season will include the long-awaited return of Bryn Terfel to Welsh National Opera after a ten-year absence for his debut in the title role in a stunning new production of The Flying Dutchman. Following its season in Cardiff, WNO will take the production to the London Coliseum for two performances.

WNO will also present revivals of its acclaimed Katie Mitchell staging of Handel’s oratorio Jephtha and Neil Armfield’s production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. WNO’s season at Wales Millennium Centre is sponsored by Associated British Ports, WNO’s longest-standing corporate sponsor marking 18 years continuous support.

<sum> The Flying Dutchman – new production marking WNO’s 60th anniversary
Bryn Terfel’s long-awaited return to WNO
WNO’s debut season at the London Coliseum

<sum> Jephtha

<sum> The Marriage of Figaro

<sum> Songlines
three new song cycles created by young people from South Wales working with WNO artists

<sum> The WNO Tour of Wales
James Macmillan begins his relationship with WNO conducting schools concerts of his own compositions, prior to writing a new opera for the company to premiere in 2007

<sum> Dolffin
The second premiere in WNO’s Land, Sea, Sky trilogy of family chamber operas inspired by conservation themes

<sum> Opera Europa Conference hosted by WNO

The Flying Dutchman
The new production for the Spring Season will be Wagner’s early masterpiece, The Flying Dutchman, opening on Friday 17 February. It is sponsored by Coutts & Co and supported by WNO’s Flying Dutchman Syndicate. WNO Music Director, Carlo Rizzi, conducting this opera for the first time, will collaborate with director David Pountney, Intendant at the Bregenz Festival and former Director of Productions at English National Opera.

For the most renowned bass-baritone in the world, Bryn Terfel, it will be his first operatic role in Wales Millennium Centre. He has campaigned for many years for a major lyric theatre to be built in Wales as a home for WNO, and was the Creative Producer for WMC’s opening weekend in November 2004. This role debut will mark his first return in opera to the company where he made his professional debut in 1990. He last appeared with WNO in 1996 when he sang Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress.

Welsh National Opera will be giving two performances of The Flying Dutchman at the London Coliseum, home of English National Opera, the Company’s first London visit since its hugely successful season in Spring 2004. Bryn Terfel will sing the title role in Cardiff, London and Birmingham, with Robert Hayward taking over the role for the remainder of the tour. Robert Hayward has sung with all the major UK opera companies, last appearing with WNO as Amfortas in Wagner’s Parsifal. He will also be singing the title role in Tchaikovsky’s epic Mazepa for WNO in Summer 2006

Senta will be sung by Swedish soprano, Annalena Persson, a role she sang with Royal Stockholm Opera in 2004. She won the International Competition for Wagner Voices at Bayreuth in 2003, and is now a principal singer at Gothenberg Opera.

Israeli bass-baritone Gidon Saks will sing Daland, tenor Ian Storey returns to WNO as Erik and Peter Wedd will sing The Steersman.

The production will also feature multi-media film and video by fêted video artists Jane and Louise Wilson, whose work has been exhibited in contemporary galleries across the world, including for the opening of the Baltic Contemporary Art Gallery in their home town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The Flying Dutchman set design will be by Robert Innes Hopkins, with lighting design by Jürgen Hoffman.

The production of The Flying Dutchman will be sponsored by Coutts & Co, the UK’s leading private bank. Their significant WNO sponsorship over seven years has included the revival of the Olivier Award winning Hansel and Gretel in early 2004 and the production of La traviata in summer 2004 and spring 2005. Support for the production also comes from the WNO Flying Dutchman Syndicate. Sung in German, The Flying Dutchman is a co-production with Opernhaus Zurich.

WNO will revive Katie Mitchell’s much-lauded production of Handel’s last oratorio, Jephtha, originally produced in 2003, and designed by Vicki Mortimer. WNO Chorus Master, Donald Nally, will conduct this revival, which opens on Thursday 2 March. Donald joined WNO in 2003 having been Chorus Master at the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Chorus Master for the Spoleto Festival in Italy for six years.

Jephtha was transferred from the concert hall platform to the opera stage for the first time by WNO, offering a dramatic vehicle to tenor, Mark Padmore, who returns again in the title role. He is again joined by Susan Bickley as Jephtha’s wife Storge, and the role of Zebul will be sung by Neal Davies. Counter-tenor Iestyn Davies will sing the role of Hamor and Iphis will be sung by young Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn, both WNO debuts. Charlotte Ellett returns as The Angel.Sung in English, Jephtha is a co-production with English National Opera.

The Marriage of Figaro
The Spring season will open on Saturday 11 February with a revival of WNO’s much-loved Neil Armfield production of The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart. Bass Matthew Rose will play Figaro and Irish soprano, Ailish Tynan, will sing Susanna, both fresh from WNO’s Autumn Season.

William Dazeley will make his WNO debut as Count Almaviva, alongside two of WNO’s Associate Artists – Elizabeth Atherton, who will sing the Countess, and Elizabeth Donovan who will sing Barbarina. Arlene Rolph will again sing Cherubino, a role she first sang with WNO in 2003. Aled Hall will sing Don Basilio, Alan Fairs will sing Doctor Bartolo, and former WNO chorister Ros Evans returns to the Company as Marcellina.

Neil Armfield’s production is designed by Dale Ferguson with original lighting design by the late Rory Dempster. It is co-produced with Opera Australia.

Young people from the South Wales Valleys will work with WNO artists to develop and stage three new song cycles inspired by The Flying Dutchman, Jephtha and The Marriage of Figaro. There will be a free performance of each song cycle in the foyer of WMC immediately preceding the first night of each opera, as well as in a venue local to the participants. Songlines is an on-going WNO MAX programme which aims to involve communities from the South Wales Valleys in the work of WNO.

ABP – sponsor of WNO’s WMC spring season 2006
Associated British Ports will again be the principal sponsor of WNO’s Spring Season at Wales Millennium Centre, having supported WNO continuously for 18 years. ABP’s vision, as the landowner, for Cardiff Bay has also been crucial in the redevelopment of the area and indeed in the creation of Wales Millennium Centre. ABP sponsored WNO’s opening season at WMC in Spring 2005, and supported WNO’s The Most Beautiful Man from the Sea community choral project in August 2005.

WNO’s Spring Season opens on Saturday 11 February at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, with performances in London, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Bristol and Swansea.

WNO’s Tour of Wales
Acclaimed Scottish composer, James Macmillan, is currently writing a new opera for WNO, The Sacrifice, which will be premièred in 2007. To develop his relationship with WNO further, James Macmillan will be joining WNO for its annual Tour of Wales. He will conduct The Orchestra of WNO in five concerts for secondary school children, the programme will include The Confession of Isobel Gowdie and Britannia. A concert for primary school children will also be performed in each town, The Magician’s Cat, conducted by Stuart Stratford, and sung by Owen Webb and Tara Harrison.

The Tour of Wales will visit Fishguard, Deeside, Porthmadog, Aberystwyth and Port Talbot from 6-12 January 2006.

Dolffin is the second of WNO’s Land, Sea, Sky trilogy of new chamber operas exploring conservation themes, with the libretto for each one being written by the National Poet of Wales, Gwyneth Lewis. Young people will join with artists from WNO to perform the new opera to family and community audiences in rural Wales in Spring 2006. Dolffin will then have performances in England and at Wales Millennium Centre in summer 2006.

The first opera in the trilogy, Redflight Barcud, premièred on 1 March 2005 in a marquee in rural Carmarthenshire and has been performed across Wales and England, and most recently in the National Assembly of Wales. It follows the fight for survival of a pair of red kites in the Welsh countryside.

Opera Europa Conference hosted by WNO
In March 2006, WNO will be hosting the Opera Europa Conference at Wales Millennium Centre. Opera Europa is the leading service organisation for professional opera companies and opera festivals throughout Europe. It is led by Director, Nicholas Payne, former General Director at English National Opera, under the chairmanship of WNO’s outgoing General Director, Anthony Freud.

Opera Europa currently serves 84 member companies from 27 different countries. The conference programme is expected to focus on topics and developments of current practical interest, such as maximizing income, audience development, new technologies, human resources and PR/Marketing. It is at conferences such as this that many Europe-wide opera co-productions are conceived.

<sum> WNO MAX is Welsh National Opera’s community, education and outreach initiative. It takes an integrated and diverse programme of performances and projects beyond the main stage. Encompassing an education and outreach brief, this programme intends to maximise company resources and create new opportunities for the ensemble and for the communities it reaches. WNO MAX seeks to maximise the potential of opera to electrify and enrapture, through participation in and preparation for live opera experiences.

For more details about the rest of Welsh National Opera’s work, call 0800 328 2357 or visit WNO's main website -
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Monday, December 12, 2005back

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