Autumn 2009 at the Welsh National Opera

Autumn 2009 sees the arrival of Welsh National Opera’s new Music Director Lothar Koenigs. Other highlights of the season include the WNO debut of outstanding opera director David McVicar and performances from Christopher Purves, Amanda Roocroft and Alfie Boe as the Company visits Cardiff, Swansea, Llandudno, Liverpool, Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Southampton.

Cough drop – A sumptuous new production of Verdi’s classic La traviata sees internationally acclaimed director David McVicar work with WNO for the first time. Also making his debut with WNO is Alfie Boe as Alfredo, while Myrto Papatanasiu will make both her Company and UK debut this season as the tragic Violetta. Dario Solari makes a welcome return as Giorgo Germont following his performances as Prince Yeletsky in this summer’s revival of The Queen of Spades. La traviata is conducted by Andrea Licata, it is a co-production with Scottish Opera and Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona.

Spilling the beans – Lothar Koenigs conducts his first opera as WNO Music Director in this first revival of Richard Jones’ stunning production of Berg’s Wozzeck since it was first premiered at Wales Millennium Centre four years ago. This interpretation sees the setting moved from an army base to a baked bean-canning factory winning the Royal Philharmonic Opera Award in 2005. Christopher Purves re-creates the title role Wozzeck with Wioletta Chodowicz as his doomed lover, Marie. Peter Hoare also returns to the cast as Captain in Cardiff and Swansea, with Graham Clark performing the role in Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Southampton.

Waiting game – WNO’s ever-popular production of Madam Butterfly returns with American tenor Russell Thomas as Pinkerton. Amanda Roocroft returns to this production as Cio-Cio-San, a role she won critical acclaim for in 2007. Judith Howarth will perform Cio-Cio-San in Oxford, Bristol, Birmingham and Southampton. Also praised by the critics was Claire Bradshaw who returns as Suzuki. Former WNO Music Director Carlo Rizzi returns to conduct at Wales Millennium Centre and will hand the baton to Simon Phillippo for one Cardiff performance and the rest of the tour.

Beyond the main stage

WNO continues its groundbreaking work in the community with a number of workshops and projects planned:

  • A specially created community choir will join WNO Chorus and Orchestra to perform Ode to Joy – Beethoven’s Choral Symphony No 9 conducted by Lothar Koenigs as part of Wales Millennium Centre’s fifth birthday celebrations.
  • Following its performances at the Washington Smithsonian in Summer 2009, The Boy Who Went to the West Wind will be touring schools this autumn. The daylong project will introduce 8-11 year olds to the world of wind instruments and voice through the adventures of a boy carried off by the wind to mythical lands. Three members of WNO Orchestra, a soprano and a children’s group will be performing the work written by Jane Buckler with music by John O’Hara which will use eight instruments including a flute, piccolo, clarinet, and bassoon.
  • A music man arrives in Cardiff Bay bringing with him special sounds – the Butetown Film Project will follow his journey in a 25-minute film featuring WNO singers, schools and community groups in a mix of live action and animation. Working with the Butetown based production company CHI, the film will also feature Bay Women Singing, Rapper Clayton Georges, Butetown Harmony Singers and WNO Singing Club.
  • No Strings is the last of the successful Street Songs Valleys songwriting projects and involve 100 pupils from Glenboie Primary School in Mountain Ash. The 4-10 year olds will create an opera based on their hopes and dreams for the future, telling the stories through puppets and a children’s chorus. A team of professional writers and musicians and Puppet Theatre Wales will work with the children who will be taught filmmaking skills to turn the finished opera into a DVD.

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