Theatre in Wales

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Revenge, rebels and wedding bells: WNO’s Spring Season     

Revenge, rebels and wedding bells: WNO’s Spring Season • Conclusion of Verdi Trilogy with new production of Les vêpres siciliennes
• WNO’s striking production of The Marriage of Figaro returns to the stage
• Summer tour of new production of Così fan tutte to smaller stages in Wales and England

Welsh National Opera has announced full details of its Spring 2020 season which features two opera classics and an operatic rarity.

Les vêpres siciliennes
The season opens with a new production of Verdi’s grand opera, Les vêpres siciliennes. Directed by Sir David Pountney and conducted by WNO Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi (until 14 March), Les vêpres siciliennes is the final instalment in the Company’s Verdi Trilogy over the last three years.

Soprano Anush Hovhannisyan returns to WNO following her debut with the Company in 2018 to take the role of Hélène, with Giorgio Caoduro also returning to WNO as Guy de Montfort. Jung Soo Yun makes his WNO debut as Henri. Completing the cast for this new production are Wojtek Gierlach, Wyn Pencarreg, Christine Byrne, Robyn Lyn Evans and Gareth Brynmor John.

Raimund Bauer’s ‘Verdi Machine’ set of three interlocking frames will again appear in this production, with costumes by Marie-Jeanne Lecca. This new production features the third act ballet, and will be choreographed by Caroline Finn, who is Resident Choreographer with National Dance Company Wales. Six dancers from National Dance Company Wales will join the cast.

Prior to the season opening, WNO will hold a free Opera Insight event at 11am on 26 February at Wales Millennium Centre, where David Pountney and Carlo Rizzi will talk about the final instalment of the Verdi Trilogy.

The Marriage of Figaro
Also in the Spring season are performances of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, originally directed by Tobias Richter in 2016. With sets designed by the eminent stage designer Ralph Koltai and costumes by acclaimed film and theatre costume designer Sue Blane, this vivid production which documents the momentous occasion of Figaro’s wedding day makes a welcome return to the WNO stage.

WNO’s Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi conducts performances of The Marriage of Figaro until 12 March when the tour will be completed by James Southall and Frederick Brown. David Ireland leads the cast as opera’s definitive extrovert, Figaro, accompanied by Soraya Mafi as Susanna, Jonathan McGovern as the flirty and flamboyant Count Almaviva, and Anita Watson as Countess Almaviva.

Jo Davies’ vibrant new production of Bizet’s Carmen returns in the Spring for further performances following a successful Autumn run, this time with a new cast. American mezzo soprano Julia Mintzer sings the title role in her UK operatic debut, with Peter Auty as Don José. Also new to the cast this season are Giorgio Caoduro (Escamillo), Elin Pritchard (Micaëla), John Savournin (Zuniga) and Haegee Lee (Frasquita).

Continuing WNO’s commitment to talent development, WNO Associate Conductor Harry Ogg will conduct the Spring performances of Carmen, with WNO Female Conductor in Residence Tianyi Lu taking the baton for the performances in Liverpool.

WNO Orchestra
Away from the main stage, WNO Orchestra have a busy Spring season lined up which includes a tour of A Journey to Vienna with soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, a recreation of Beethoven’s iconic 1808 concert alongside BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, and a concert under the baton of WNO Music Director Tomáš Hanus as part of the International Concert Series at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.

Prior to the Spring season operas opening, WNO Orchestra will accompany the National Opera Studio (NOS) for a performance at Wales Millennium Centre on 1 February. WNO has a long-standing association with the NOS as part of its talent development programme, offering opportunities for up and coming artists to gain valuable industry experience. Directed by Emma Jenkins and conducted by Sian Edwards, the 17 singers and repetiteurs from the NOS will perform semi-staged performances of opera scenes in the Centre’s Donald Gordon Theatre.

Youth and Community
WNO’s work to open up opera and inspire young people continues with a series of schools concerts during the Spring season in Llandudno, Southampton and Norwich, alongside the main scale tour. WNO also brings its popular Family Concert to Theatre Royal Plymouth on 18 April. These concerts provide an opportunity for young people to experience a live orchestral concert, and for many this is their introduction to opera and classical music.

In April, over 100 participants from WNO Youth Opera, aged 10-18, will perform a new production of Judith Weir’s The Black Spider at Memo Arts Centre in Barry. The production reunites the creative team behind the critically acclaimed performances of Brundibár by WNO Youth Opera in Summer 2018 with Rhian Hutchings directing, Dan Perkin conducting, and design by Bethany Seddon.

WNO’s programme of activity with refugee and asylum seekers will continue with a new piece of writing which will be developed in partnership with the Oasis Centre in Cardiff. Based on stories and songs from the participants at the Centre, the piece will be performed later in the spring.

Così fan tutte

Opening 23 May, WNO will tour a new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte aka School of Love to mid-scale venues across Wales and England. The tour follows on from WNO’s recent mid-scale productions of Rhondda Rips it Up! and Don Pasquale, and is part of the Company’s ongoing commitment to reach a wide range of audiences with a varied operatic repertoire. Directed by Max Hoehn and designed by Jemima Robinson, this new production of Così fan tutte, set in the 1970s, will take audiences ‘back to school’ as it follows four sixth formers learning about first love and all its complications.

The cast for Così fan tutte includes Rhodri Prys Jones as Ferrando, Ross Ramgobin as Guglielmo, Quentin Hayes as Don Alfonso, Nazan Fikret as Fiordiligi, Katie Bray as Dorabella and Elizabeth Karani as Despina. Frederick Brown conducts.

WNO General Director Aidan Lang says: “Verdi’s rarely performed Grand Opera Les vêpres siciliennes is a major undertaking for any company; so I am particularly proud that WNO is presenting it in our Spring Season, as it is a worthy title with which to conclude our trilogy of his works. With The Marriage of Figaro and Carmen also in our line-up, we hopefully have something that will appeal to all opera-goers, be they newcomers to the art form, or aficionados. Equally important to our productions on the main stage, however, are the projects undertaken by our Youth and Community department. Meaningful engagements with opera can come in all shapes and sizes, and the sheer range of activity that the company now undertakes truly helps us to establish our work in the lives of many who might not otherwise have ready access to our big touring theatres.”

For more information, visit
Welsh Naronal Opera  
web site
Rhys Edwards
Sunday, November 24, 2019back



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