Theatre in Wales

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Opulence and decadence of Vienna society provides backdrop to WNO’s Summer Season ‘Vienna Vice’     

Opulence and decadence of Vienna society provides backdrop to WNO’s Summer Season ‘Vienna Vice’ • New Music Director Tomáš Hanus to make operatic debut with the Company
• Rebecca Evans to give first performance in iconic role, The Marschallin
• Olivia Fuchs to make her directorial WNO debut in new production of Der Rosenkavalier
• Mary Elizabeth Williams returns as Rosalinde in John Copley’s opulent production of Die Fledermaus
Welsh National Opera’s Summer season offers a taste of one of music’s most seductive destinations, Vienna, with a celebration of the city’s musical culture and style.

The season includes a new production of Richard Strauss’s sumptuous comedy Der Rosenkavalier sung in German. Alongside Der Rosenkavalier is John Copley’s opulent, traditional and popular production of Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II.

These two famous works are the perfect opportunity for the Company’s new Music Director, Tomáš Hanus, to make his British operatic debut.

Tomáš Hanus is now recognised as one of the Czech Republic’s most exciting and important conductors. His varied career includes conducting at major European opera houses including the Dresden Semperoper, the Bavarian State Opera, the Royal Danish Opera, the Norwegian National Opera and Teatro Real Madrid as well as conducting symphony orchestras around the world. He takes to WNO’s operatic stage following a great response from audiences and critics for his concert performances with WNO Orchestra in the Autumn and Spring seasons.

Soprano Rebecca Evans will be making a role debut in the iconic role of The Marschallin in the new production of Der Rosenkavalier. She says “I am hugely looking forward to pursuing Richard Strauss’ love affair with the soprano voice from the mature perspective of The Marschallin. Whilst delicately mourning the loss of her youth and the inconstancy of men she remains full of grace, passion and generosity- truly a character to be relished and treasured.”

Also joining the cast for Der Rosenkavalier are Brindley Sherratt (Baron Ochs), Lucia Cervoni (Octavian), Louise Adler (Sophie), Adrian Clarke (Faninal), Madeleine Shaw (Annina), Paul Charles Clarke (Italian Singer) and Matthew Hargreaves (Police Commissar).

In her WNO directorial debut, Olivia Fuchs will direct this new production, which is a co-production with Theater Magdeburg. Olivia will be working with Niki Turner as designer. Both have worked together previously for Opera Australia on an award-winning production of Rusalka. Talking about Der Rosenkavalier, Olivia says: “Sensuous, erotic and passionate – we are plunged into 1911 Vienna, the end of an era where time is running out, slipping through fingers like sand in an hourglass. Time is experienced in all its complexity, enfolding different historical eras, measured mechanically and expressed through memory and imagination, exploring its essential transience.”

The distinguished director John Copley returns to WNO for the revival of his acclaimed production of Die Fledermaus. The production will transport audiences to early 1900s Vienna in a production that revels in the humour and frivolity of the story, and is full of opulence, fancy frocks and lavish detail. Featuring a rich and romantic score by Johan Strauss, we join the characters at a masquerade ball as a plot around mistaken identity unfolds. Die Fledermaus will be sung in English with translation by David Pountney and dialogue by John Copley.

The cast for Die Fledermaus includes Mary Elizabeth Williams in the role of Rosalinde who returns to WNO following recent performances as Lady Macbeth during the Company’s Autumn 2016 season. Mark Stone takes the role of her errant husband Eisenstein, returning to WNO following his role as Count Almaviva last spring. They will be joined by Ben McAteer (Falke), Rhian Lois (Adele), Alan Opie (Frank), Paul Charles Clarke (Alfred), and Emma Carrington (Orlofsky).

Also joining the cast in the role of the jailer, Frosch, is Welsh actor Steve Speirs. Better known to some as Alan in the Sky One series Stella, Steve has appeared in TV shows including Extras, Doctor Who and Miranda, and has also appeared in feature films including Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

WNO Music Director Tomáš Hanus says: “Rosenkavalier and Fledermaus are pieces that introduce us to music which is a joy, a delightful touch of beauty that we are allowed to share with the audience. They can touch both the very experienced opera lovers as well as those who are new to the art form and who would like to find out what opera could mean for them. I am very much looking forward to conducting these pieces and sharing them with our audience.”

WNO Artistic Director David Pountney says: “The Vienna of the 19th century was a famously frisky and frolicsome place. It indulged itself exuberantly in shallow pleasures and deep neuroses, laughing all the way to the bankruptcy court festooned with titles and uniforms. It was also, it is worth us now recalling, the capital of a ramshackle, chaotic, dysfunctional Union of disparate countries and cultures, whose complaints about its repressive and Byzantine bureaucracy were long and loud – until that is, this Union was dissolved. Then, compared to the century that followed, all those countries could look back on the Hapsburg Empire and marvel at its in retrospect idyllic peace and prosperity. As we shall hear richly realised in these two superb operas, from 1815 to 1914 there was in Central Europe a century with time to laugh and to dance. There was plenty of time and occasion to weep after. Enjoy the laughter while you can!”

The Summer season opens in Cardiff on 20 May, and tours to Birmingham where audiences will also get a chance to see WNO’s classic production of Madam Butterfly. WNO will also return to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 19 and 20 July with the London première performances of André Tchaikowsky’s The Merchant of Venice, which WNO performed in Cardiff and on tour during the Autumn 2016 season.

An immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experience will also launch in Summer 2017 as part of the Cardiff Festival. The experience is free entry and will be presented inside a shipping container situated outside Wales Millennium Centre. WNO hopes the experience will intrigue visitors and draw them into an immersive virtual world which will use music and film to re-imagine opera stories including WNO’s classic productions of Madam Butterfly and The Magic Flute. WNO will be working with creative agency REWIND to deliver the experience combining animation, music and technology to create a new artistic commission that will reach and engage new audiences that would not necessarily be familiar with the work of WNO. It will return to Cardiff in September 2017 and tour to Llandudno, Birmingham and Liverpool.

For further information, visit
Welsh National Opera  
web site
Christina Blackeman
Tuesday, April 11, 2017back



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