Monday 13 March 2023

Imagination and belief in a hostile climate: new seasons from Welsh National Opera and Opera North

Golijov: Ainadamar - Scottish Opera
Golijov's Ainadamar at Scottish Opera, a production coming to Welsh National Opera
(Photo James Glossop)

New seasons from Welsh National Opera and Opera North. Both WNO and Opera North have released details of forthcoming 2023/24 seasons, and both companies seem determined to make the most of opportunities despite funding cuts and a generally hostile climate for the arts. New productions at WNO will be Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, the company's first-ever production of Britten's Death in Venice, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, and Puccini's Il Trittico. Opera North presents new productions of Verdi's Falstaff, Puccini's La Rondine, a new masque based on Purcell's music, and Rachmaninoff's Aleko, with the company's Autumn season being fully sustainable. 

WNO's Autumn season features Golijov's Ainadamar, in a production shared with Scottish Opera who gave the work's UK premiere last year. Ainadamar is directed by choreographer Deborah Colker and conducted by Matthew Kofi Waldren, with Argentinian soprano Jaquelina Livieri, Julieth Lozano, and Alfredo Tejada. There is a revival of David McVicar's production of Verdi's La Traviata conducted by Alexander Joel with Olga Pudova, David Junghoon Kim and Mark S Doss. The operas will tour to Cardiff, Llandudno, Bristol, Plymouth, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Southampton.

Opera North's Autumn is devoted to its Green Season, its first fully sustainable season which will use shared scenic elements, designed by Leslie Travers, to create three interlinked yet distinctive designs, enabling Opera North to reduce its use of materials and its carbon footprint. All sets, props and costumes in the season are sourced from previous productions or purchased second-hand. A new production of Verdi's Falstaff is directed by Jo Davies, conducted by Garry Walker with Henry Waddington in the title role. Sir David Pountney has created the Masque of Might using Purcell's music reimagining the 17th-century form of the masque with modern technology to create a biting yet humorous contemporary satire, billed as an ‘eco-entertainment’. The conductor is Harry Bickett with Andri Björn Róbertsson, James Laing and Anna Dennis. Puccini's La Rondine is directed by James Hurley, conducted by Kerem Hasan, with Galina Averina, Claire Lees, Sébastien Guèze and Elgan Llŷr Thomas. The operas will tour to Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Salford.

WNO's Spring season features two new productions. Music director Tomáš Hanus conducts Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, directed by Max Hoehn, with Sophie Bevan, Kayleigh Decker, Egor Zhuravskii and James Atkinson. Olivia Fuchs directs Britten's Death in Venice, conducted by Leo Hussain, with Mark LeBrocq, making his role debut as Aschenbach, Roderick Williams and Alexander Chance. The Spring operas tour to Cardiff, Llandudno, Southampton, Oxford, Bristol and Plymouth.

Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana at Opera North in 2017
Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana at Opera North in 2017
the production is revived in 2024 (Photo Robert Workman)

Opera North's Spring Season features a revival of Giles Havergal's production of Britten's Albert Herring, conducted by Garry Walker with Josephine Barstow as Lady Billows, plus Katie Bray, William Dazeley, Amy Freston, Richard Mosley-Evans, Claire Pascoe, Dominic Sedgwick, and Heather Shipp. Tim Albery's production of Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte is revived with Alexandra Lowe, Heather Lowe, Anthony Gregory and Henry Neill as the lovers, conducted by Clemens Schuldt and Chloe Rooke, each making their Opera North debuts. A double bill features a new production of Rachminoff's rarely-performed Aleko, directed by Karolina Sofulak with a revival of her production of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, conducted by Antony Hermus. Many of the cast take roles in both works with Robert Hayward, Giselle Allen, Andrés Presno, Elin Pritchard and Anne-Marie Owens. The operas will tour to Leeds, Nottingham, Salford and Hull. 

WNO's Summer seaon features David McVicar's new production of Puccini's Il Trittico which debuts in Scotland this month. The conductor is Carlo Rizzi and the cast includes Justina Gringytė, Vuvu Mpofu, and Alexia Voulgaridou. The production will not tour and is only being performed in Cardiff.

Throughout the year, the WNO Orchestra will be giving a programme of concerts including St David's Hall, and two concert tours, whilst the Orchestra of Opera North will be appearing at the Kirklees Concert Season

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