Monday 15 October 2012

New Direction at WNO

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David Poutney's tenure at Welsh National Opera was always going to be interesting and now the company's programme is taking a striking new direction with the production of a group of contemporary works, all UK premieres, over the next few years, in a series entitled British Firsts. We already knew that WNO were giving the UK stage premiere of Jonathan Harvey's Wagner Dream (given its first UK performance at the Barbican in a semi-staged production). Thanks to a $2 million gift from the Getty Family, there are now a selection of others in the following years.

Summer 2014 sees the UK premieres of a pair of work's based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. First there is Robert Orledge's completion of Debussy's unfinished opera; this was premiered at the 2006 Bregenz Festival in a production by Phyllida Lloyd. Orledge is musicologist who has done a lot of work on, and completion of, Debussy's unfinished projects. Debussy only produced short score drafts of the first scene and part of the second, so there is not a lot to go on! This will be paired with Usher House by Gordon Getty. The productions travel to San Francisco in 2015. We won't get cynical about the source of the funding will we, we'll just wait patiently to see what the opera is really like.

2015 sees a version of Peter Pan by Richard Ayres. Ayres was born in Cornwall, studied at Huddersfield and in the Netherlands with Louis Andriessen and he continues to live and work in the Netherlands. Peter Pan will be his second opera, co-commissioned by WNO, Stuttgart Opera and the Komische Oper Berlin.

In 2017 they will be giving the UK premiere of Korean composer Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland. This was her first opera and was premiered by Bavarian State Opera in 2007. She cooperated on the libretto (in English) with the playwright David Henry Hwang. The opera has already received some acclaim and being given a number of other productions. Our chance to experience one of the interesting new strands in contemporary opera.

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