Wednesday 16 March 2016

Celebrating 70 years of Welsh National Opera with some old favourites and a new opera

Iain Bell - In Parenthesis - WNO
This Summer, Welsh National Opera celebrates 70 years of the company with a new opera, and a pair of old ones along with some other goodies. The company's first ever operas were Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, so  Elijah Moshinsky's 1996 production (created for the company's 50th anniversary) is being revived, conducted by Carlo Rizzi with Gwyn Hughes-Jones as Turiddu & Canio, David Kempster as Alfio & Tonio, Camilla Roberts as Santuzza and Meeta Raval as Nedda. Performances are in Cardiff (26 & 29 May, 1 and 4 June) and in Birmingham (9 & 11 June)

The company has also commissioned a new opera, In Parenthesis from Iain Bell. Based on David Jones World War One poem, the work is a remembrance of David Jones’ personal experience as a soldier in the Royal Welch Fusiliers at the Battle of Mametz Wood. (You can read more about David Jones, the poet and the artist, in my article on the Culture Trip website). David Pountney directs and Carlo Rizzi conducts with a cast including Andrew Bidlack, Peter Coleman-Wright, Alexandra Deshorties, George Humphreys, Marcus Farnsworth and Graham Clark. Performances are in Cardiff (13 & 21 May, 3 June), Birmingham (10 June) and London (1, 2 July). The performance at the Royal Opera House on Friday 1 July, 7.30pm will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. There are a number events surrounding the opera, see the dedicated website for details and if you can't get to see the work then it is the first full-length opera from Welsh National Opera to be streamed on the Opera Platform broadcast on 1 July and available free to view for six months.

Other events in the season include a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies' opera (with a libretto by David Poutney) Komiltonen by WNO Youth Opera. The opera intertwines three stories of student revolution in the 20th century, and was written originally for the Royal Academy of Music  in 2011. The work will be given a promenade production at Memo Arts Centre in Barry  from 27-30 July 2016.

David Pountney will be directing a new, site specific production of Poulenc's La voix humaine for Wales Millennium Centre's Festival of Voice. The piece will be sung in English by Claire Booth and take place in an apartment in Penarth (3-6 June). Also in the Festival Voice, WNO will be celebrating the company's roots as an amateur chorus. On 4 June at Wales Millennium Centre, the 100 strong WNO Community Chorus will be joined by the Forget-me-Not Chorus, a ground breaking charity that allows people with dementia and their families to have a voice.

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