Celebrating 70 Years of WNO – Welsh National Opera’s Summer Season is a Time to Reflect and to Look to the Future
• World Première of In Parenthesis by Iain Bell
• Revival of the Company’s first operas Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci
• New site- specific production of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine as part of Wales Millennium Centre’s Festival of Voice.
• New WNO Youth Opera production Kommilitonen! by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
Welsh National Opera will celebrate 70 years of the Company this summer in a season that includes a World Première, a revival of the first two productions ever staged by the company in Cardiff on 15 April 1946, a new WNO Youth Opera production and a unique production as part of Wales Millennium Centre’s Festival of Voice.
Welsh National Opera will commemorate WW1 and the centenary of the Battle of the Somme with the World Première of a new opera commissioned to mark the Company’s 70th anniversary. In Parenthesis will be directed by WNO’s Artistic Director David Pountney with a libretto by David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins. In Parenthesis is acclaimed British composer Iain Bell’s adaptation of the epic poem by poet, writer and artist David Jones and is designed by Robert Innes Hopkins. The work is a remembrance of David Jones’ personal experience as a soldier in the Royal Welch Fusiliers at the Battle of Mametz Wood.
In Parenthesis is commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust with 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War Centenary.
In Parenthesis will be conducted by WNO’s Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi. Tenor Andrew Bidlack will make his debut with WNO, taking the principal role of Private John Ball. Mark Le Brocq makes a welcome return to WNO following his successful performance as Ebenezer Scrooge in Iain Bell’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol in December taking the role of Sergeant Snell. Also returning to WNO is renowned baritone, Donald Maxwell as Dai Greatcoat, Alexandra Deshorties as Bard of Germania/Alice the Barmaid/The Queen of the Woods and Graham Clark as The Marne Sergeant. Performing with WNO for the first time are up and coming new talents Marcus Farnsworth (Lance Corporal), George Humphreys (Lieutentant Jenkins) as well as Peter Coleman-Wright as Bard of Brittannia/HQ Officer.
Alongside the staging of the opera, WNO are embarking upon an extensive programme of work to engage as many people as possible across communities in the themes and music of the opera and its relevance to the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. These include FIELD, a major digital interactive installation which will launch at Wales Millennium Centre on 13 May and work in schools and communities across Wales and England culminating in a public ‘Come and Sing’ event at Wales Millennium Centre prior to the world première.
A dedicated website, inparenthesis.org.uk., features a series of fortnightly video podcast episodes and a wealth of additional content that explores the life of David Jones and traces the creative process of bringing this new opera to the stage. Details of all In Parenthesis events are available at http://inparenthesis.org.uk/events
In Parenthesis will also be the first full-length opera from Welsh National Opera to be streamed on the Opera Platform theoperaplatform.eu broadcast on 1 July and available free to view for six months. The Opera Platform offers both those who already love opera and those curious to try opera for the first time the opportunity to watch performances and access backstage content via the new online platform.
Following its world première at Wales Millennium Centre (Friday 13 May 7.15p.m.) and further performances in Cardiff (Saturday 21 May and Friday 3 June), the work will tour to Birmingham and to London, as part of WNO’s annual residency at the Royal Opera House. A special 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.
Cavalliera rusticana and Pagliacci
Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, affectionately known as ‘Cav and Pag’ are the productions where it all started for WNO making this double bill a natural choice of repertoire in a season marking 70 years.
These intense and dramatic Italian one act operas are performed together in one evening and are particularly well known for their beautiful music including the famous ‘Easter Hymn’ and ‘Intermezzo’ in Cavalleria rusticana and ‘Vesti la giubba’ in Pagliacci. The operas will be conducted by Carlo Rizzi and directed by Elijah Moshinsky. Full of drama these operas will transport audiences to the streets of Sicily and Southern Italy where passions are running high.
Returning to WNO for the double bill is a cast that includes some of Wales’s greatest opera talent: Gwyn Hughes Jones, David Kempster, Camilla Roberts and Anne-Marie Owens.
Performances are in Cardiff (26 & 29 May, 1 and 4 June) and in Birmingham (9 & 11 June)
Festival of Voice events
Taking place in an apartment in Penarth, South Wales (3 – 9 June), WNO Artistic Director David Pountney has taken a 20th century opera classic, Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, and created a unique and visceral theatre experience as a coproduction with Wales Millennium Centre for Festival of Voice. Audiences will witness this extraordinary opera up close as a woman is on the phone to her lover. As he tells her he doesn’t want to be with her anymore, her life begins to unravel. Sung live in English, this one woman performance by soprano Claire Booth has a recorded piano accompaniment and will be a new opera encounter for audiences. www.wno.org.uk/event/la-voix-humaine
For the past 70 years WNO have celebrated the joy of community singing from their roots as an amateur chorus. On 4 June, 4pm at Wales Millennium Centre as part of Festival of Voice, a special concert brings together a re-formed WNO Community Chorus of over 100 voices, joined by the inspirational Forget-me-Not Chorus, a ground breaking charity that allows people with dementia and their families to have a voice. The one hour concert reflects upon the first 70 years of WNO through a programme of music which has a special place in the hearts of both audiences and the Company itself. This uplifting event will feature the WNO Orchestra and young singers from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama performing as soloists and will be conducted by WNO’s Conductor Laureate Carlo Rizzi. https://festivalofvoice.wales/what-on/wno-community-choir/
Complementing the main scale operas in the season will be a new WNO Youth Opera production of Kommilitonen!, a contemporary opera for young people about young people by composer Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies and with a libretto by WNO’s Artistic Director David Pountney. The opera intertwines three stories of student revolution in the 20th century. The piece tells the stories of the legendary Scholl brother and sister who were guillotined for opposing Hitler, the lone civil rights campaigner James Meredith and the terrifying events of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Kommilitonen! is a promenade performance staged at Memo Arts Centre in Barry from 27-30 July 2016. WNO Youth Opera continues to be ambitious and build upon its success providing professional training and unique performance opportunities for young singers giving a public platform to highlight young talent.
David Pountney said “It is very inspirational for me to have a part to play in this 70th anniversary celebration. I first worked for WNO in 1974 – so not quite 70 years ago – but long enough ago for me to feel a real bond with the adventurous and explorative roots of this company. That project was the Janacek cycle – a very daring piece of repertoire planning in those days. We celebrate our 70th anniversary therefore in that spirit, not by looking back, but by looking forwards, with major new works that reveal that opera is a highly vibrant and creative art form, not solely reliant on the master works from the past. Our new commission, In Parenthesis, commemorates the horrific events of 1916, but also celebrates David Jones’ visionary literary work which distilled those horrific experiences into timeless poetry. This anniversary year has already seen one major world premiere – “Figaro gets a Divorce” – and will continue in the summer with our Youth Opera production of Kommilitonen! – an opera that celebrates student activism – that essential spark of dissent whose flame indicates a living and breathing democracy. It also reveals that opera is a living and breathing art form, full of life, vigor, and contrariness. That is what we are here for. We trust you are with us!”
Carlo Rizzi said “I am honoured to be part of WNO’s 70th anniversary season, this year in my role of Conductor Laureate. It is another great milestone for an opera company that, born from the strong love of the Welsh people for singing, has expanded and became very well known worldwide. It is very brave and longsighted of WNO to celebrate this anniversary with a new commission on a subject that has Welsh, British and international resonance and I am really looking forward to work with Iain Bell, David Pountney and all the creative team on this challenging and exciting enterprise. Together with this new work, I will be conducting the double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci that is at the core of WNO since the beginning in 1946. My wish is that this celebratory season, with these works representing the past and the present of WNO, will propel the company into an ever brighter artistic future.”
Welsh National Opera Summer 2016
ST DAVID’S HALL Sun 1 May ‘THREE’ WNO Orchestra concert 3:00pm
Box Office (029) 2087 8444
CARDIFF Fri 13 May In Parenthesis * 7.15pm
WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE Sat 21 May In Parenthesis 7:15pm
Box Office (02920) 636464** Thurs 26 May Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci * 7:15pm
Sun 29 May Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci 4.00pm
Wed 01 Jun Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci 7:15pm
Fri 03 Jun In Parenthesis 7.15pm
Sat 4 Jun Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci 7:15pm
BIRMINGHAM Thurs 09 Jun Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci * 7:15pm
HIPPODROME Fri 10 Jun In Parenthesis * 7:15pm
Box Office (0844) 338 5000** Sat 11 Jun Cavalleria Rusticana & Pagliacci 7:15pm
LONDON Wed 29 Jun In Parenthesis * 7.30pm
ROYAL OPERA HOUSE Fri 01 July In Parenthesis 7.30pm
Box Office +44 (0)20 7304 4000
Composer – Iain Bell
Librettists – David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins (after David Jones)
First night: Friday 13 May 2016 at 7.15pm at Wales Millennium Centre
Sung in English with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff)
Private John Ball Andrew Bidlack
Bard of Britannia / HQ Officer Peter Coleman-Wright
Bard of Germania / Alice the Barmaid Alexandra Deshorties
/ The Queen of the Woods
Lieutenant Jenkins George Humphreys
Lance Corporal Lewis Marcus Farnsworth
The Marne Sergeant Graham Clark
Sergeant Snell Mark Le Brocq
Dai Great Coat Donald Maxwell
Private Watcyn Joe Roche
Private Wastebottom Martin Lloyd
German Soldier/Runner Simon Buttle
Conductor Carlo Rizzi
Director David Pountney
Designer Robert Innes Hopkins
Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth
Commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust
With 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund
Supported by WNO Commissions Group
Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci – Mascagni & Leoncavallo
First night: Thursday 26 May 2016 at 7.15pm at Wales Millennium Centre
Sung in Italian with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff)
Turiddu Gwyn Hughes Jones
Alfio David Kempster
Santuzza Camilla Roberts
Mamma Lucia Anne-Marie Owens
Lola Rebecca Afonwy-Jones
Canio Gwyn Hughes Jones
Tonio David Kempster
Nedda Meeta Raval
Silvio Gyula Nagy
Beppe Trystan Llyr Griffiths
Conductor Carlo Rizzi
Director Elijah Moshinsky
Designer Michael Yeargan
Lighting Designer Howard Harrison