Rhinegold Photo credit: Richard Hubert Smith
Donald Maxwell (Fra Melitone) and WNO Chorus in La forza del destino

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

WNO reveals 2018/19 season

11:53, 8th February 2018

Welsh National Opera’s 2018/19 season includes a new production of War and Peace in the autumn, the continuation of a three-year Verdi trilogy with a new production of Un ballo in maschera in the spring, and plans for an amnesty-themed season in the summer which will bring the entire company together, from WNO Chorus and Orchestra to Youth and Community.

In his final year as WNO artistic director, David Pountney will work across all three artistic seasons. The autumn season will open with his new production of Prokofiev’s War and Peace, conducted by music director Tomáš Hanus and designed by Robert Innes Hopkins. The cast includes Lauren Michelle as Natasha, Mark Le Brocq as Pierre and Jonathan McGovern as Andrei.

WNO’s 2007 production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola will be revived for the first time. Hanus will conduct a cast including Tara Erraught as Angelina, Matteo Macchioni as Don Ramiro, Fabio Capitanucci as Don Magnifico, and Giorgio Caoduro as Dandini.

David McVicar’s production of La traviata will be conducted by James Southall. The cast will include Anush Hovhannisyan and Linda Richardson who will share the role of Violetta, Kang Wang as Alfredo and Roland Wood as Giorgio.

The autumn season will be completed by further performances of WNO’s ‘music hall’ style opera, Rhondda Rips It Up!, across Wales and England, and a schools programme, Opera Engage, in Southampton. Young people aged 11-16 will work alongside WNO’s creative team, a composer, writer and singer, and local musicians to create and perform music hall style pieces around the themes of protest, rebellion and human, responding to the issues presented by Rhondda Rips it Up!

Following WNO’s autumn tour, the Company will take its production of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead to the Janáček Brno Festival on 2 December, conducted by Hanus.

The spring season will open with a new production of Un ballo in maschera, the second instalment in the company’s Verdi trilogy, directed by Pountney and conducted by Carlo Rizzi. The cast will include Gwyn Hughes-Jones, who will sing Riccardo, and Sara Fulgoni, who will sing Ulrica.

The design team’s ‘Verdi Machine’ – a set of three interlocking frames – will again feature in this production, but will look distinctly different from the set of La forza del destino. According to WNO, the frames will show how ‘the King constantly plays with truth and disguise, and loses his sense of reality in his fascination with theatre’.

The spring season will also include a revival of the company’s 2013 production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. Carlo Rizzi will conduct a cast including Joyce El-Khoury as Elisabetta, Justina Gringyté as Sara and Gary Griffiths as Nottingham. The season will be completed by a revival of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, sung in English, and featuring Mark Stone as Papageno and Anita Watson as Pamina.

For the summer season, WNO will present a programme of semi-staged concert performances of operas that focus on the fate of refugees and prisoners and political oppression. The brainchild of David Pountney, this season will bring together every area of WNO, from the Chorus and Orchestra to Youth Opera and the Community Chorus, together with BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Further details will be announced at a later date.

The Orchestra of WNO will give three concerts under Hanus in the International Concert Series at St David’s Hall Cardiff between November 2018 and March 2019. Family concerts are also planned in Cardiff and Birmingham, and a schools concert in Southampton. The Orchestra will also take its Viennese New Year programme on tour throughout a number of regional venues across Wales in January 2019 under the direction of orchestra leader and concertmaster David Adams, and will tour to regional venues throughout Wales and England in summer 2019, presenting a wide range of standard orchestral programmes as well as popular operatic classics.

Summarising the season, David Pountney said: ‘Opera has an exceptional ability to encapsulate and represent major events and movements in history. It sees them however not through the narrow eyes of politics, but from the compassionate and healing viewpoint of music.

‘At the start of our year, in the autumn, three young women, indulgent, naïve maybe, very possibly misguided, run away in search of passion. At the end of our year, we encounter entire peoples fleeing from economic hardship or political terror.

‘That is the typical arch of operatic expression – from intimate and private passions to the grand march of history, all given profound expression by the sublime voice of music.’


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