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WNO announces 2022/23 season




  • Programmes and Engagement plans announced with a focus on Health and Wellbeing

  • WNO Youth Opera to perform modern adaptation of Shostakovich’s Cheryomushki, Cherry Town, Moscow directed by Daisy Evans at Wales Millennium Centre.

  • New tour dates for brand new opera Migrations by Will Todd

  • New productions of The Makropulos Affair and The Magic Flute and a new commission Blaze of Glory!

  • Summer 2023 performances of Bernstein’s Candide


WNO’s General Director Aidan Lang outlines the company’s vision for its 2022/23 Season here. You can also see Aidan introduce each of the season’s productions here. Welsh National Opera has announced its programme of productions and concerts for the 2022/2023 Season. In addition, the Company has revealed large scale Programmes and Engagement plans, designed to engage and positively impact lives of people in the community. The Company will also continue its talent development programme throughout the year aimed at engaging more people across society to be involved in the future of opera. Autumn 2022 Autumn 2022 will open with a new production of The Makropulos Affair; part of WNO’s Janáček Series, directed by Olivia Fuchs and conducted by WNO’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus. The story centres on the idea of eternal life and is based on a play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek. The opera begins seemingly as a tale of a never-ending legal dispute between two families, but evolves into a mystery surrounding its enigmatic central character, Emilia Marty who will be performed by Emma Bell. As well as touring to UK cities, the production will also be performed internationally as part of the Brno Festival celebrating Janáček and his work in November. Following The Makropulos Affair in the autumn is Puccini’s La bohème, one of the great opera stories and a tale of youth, rebellion and freedom. Director Annabel Arden will return to WNO to revisit her production to give the original creation a freshness which will equally appeal to those enjoying this much-loved opera again or those seeing it for the very first time. La bohème will be conducted by Pietro Rizzo, making his WNO debut. The Autumn Season will also see the continuation of the ground-breaking new opera, Migrations following its world premiere in Summer 2022. To create a diversity of voices, writers - Shreya Sen Handley, Edson Burton and Miles Chambers, Eric Ngalle Charles, Sarah Woods and Sir David Pountney, (who also directs Migrations) have worked with British composer Will Todd to create the libretto of six stories of migration with some of the narratives drawn from people’s real-life experiences. The cast of 100 performers includes Tom Randle, Meeta Raval, David Shipley and upcoming British talent Peter Brathwaite amongst other artists, along with the Bristol based Renewal Gospel Choir, Bollywood dancers and a children’s chorus. Matthew Kofi Waldren conducts. This ambitious new opera is part of a five-year partnership with the Welsh Refugee Council working with groups in the community through composition, music and performance projects. On 9 October on the Wales Millennium Centre stage, WNO’s award-winning Youth Opera will give two performances of a modern production of Shostakovich’s Cheryomushki named Cherry Town, Moscow. Following the huge success of 2019’s Don Pasquale, Daisy Evans will return to WNO to direct this production, the first of two in the WNO 2022/2023 season. She will be joined by top industry professionals including conductor Alice Farnham and vocal specialist Mary King, leading the 18 to 25 year old young singers in a fully professional experience whilst offering audiences exceptional entertainment by emerging talent.

Spring 2023 The WNO Spring Season will see a continuation of WNO’s commitment to create new and relevant work. In a new commission, Blaze of Glory! Caroline Clegg (Director) and Emma Jenkins (Librettist) join forces once more following their collaboration at WNO on Rhondda Rips It Up! in 2018. Set in the 1950s, Blaze of Glory! is a feel-good opera that follows the fortunes of a group of miners in a small village who embark upon a musical odyssey by forming a male voice choir to unite the community after a mining disaster. The lead role of Dafydd Pugh will be sung by Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts. Composed by David Hackbridge Johnson, the score features close harmony singing, traditionally associated with male voice choirs, as well as operetta, big band, jive, lindy hop and African gospel music. A brand new production of Mozart’s classic opera The Magic Flute conceptualised and directed by Daisy Evans will also be performed in Spring 2023, conducted by Tomáš Hanus. Evans’ restyling of the libretto will give a modern take on the story, increasing its appeal to families and building on the opera’s reputation as the perfect first opera. Performances of Bernstein’s comic operetta Candide at Wales Millennium Centre in June will bring the 2022/2023 Season to a close. Details of the production and performance dates will follow shortly. Programmes and Engagement Activity The Company’s Hub areas for engagement work enable WNO to make culture an everyday experience for people in the communities across the country with well-established hubs in South and North Wales, Birmingham & West Midlands. Their aim is to create meaningful routes into opera and classical music for people in the community and engage new and younger audiences across the regions. With a focus on Health and Wellbeing, projects in 2022/2023 include: Wellness with Welsh National Opera, a breathing and singing programme for people experiencing Long COVID in Wales. The programme is being delivered by Welsh National Opera in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr, Cardiff and Vale and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Boards to great success and is supported by a grant from Arts Council of Wales via the Health and Wellbeing Lottery Fund. Wellness with WNO has been created to support the physical and emotional well-being needs of people with Long COVID and will be developed and expanded to reach a wider number of people across further health boards in Wales in 2022/2023. The programme has been planned with NHS medical professionals and is devised in consultation with the English National Opera and is based on their original ENO Breathe project. Sessions are being run both in the English and Welsh language. WNO has commissioned a new opera to be performed at the Weston Studio at Wales Millennium Centre in October 2022 as part of a three-year collaboration working with emerging artists through Oasis Cardiff, a centre supporting people seeking sanctuary in Wales. Following last season’s theatrical film A Song for the Future, writer Sarah Woods and composer Boff Whalley return with an ensemble of writers, artists and musicians, to co-create the production, inspired by stories of global crisis and the fight for humanity. The production will push the boundaries of opera and showcase the diversity and creativity of international voices in Wales, through the fusion of classical music with influences from across the globe. Alongside the production of Blaze of Glory! in Spring 2023, WNO will place the community at the heart of its work in three strands of engagement activity: WNO will collaborate with a diverse array of male voice choirs from across Wales and England to highlight the historical significance of this tradition, the important role still played by modern male voice choirs within different communities, and the beneficial effects of singing on men’s mental health. The choirs will have the opportunity to take part in performances of Blaze of Glory! in touring venues, and perform as part of the pre-show entertainment. Blaze of Glory! will also provide the springboard for a composition project for young people aged 14-17 around gender identity, exploring their views of cultural and social roles. Concert recitals will also be performed across Wales in care homes, featuring Blaze of Glory! cast members, entertaining and reaching people unable to attend the theatre.

WNO Orchestra WNO Orchestra has a busy concert schedule for 2022/2023 in addition to the productions announced, taking part in the prestigious Cardiff Classical Concert season at St David’s Hall alongside performances in Prague and at The Brno Festival. Play Opera LIVE, Family and Schools Concerts are also programmed throughout the year. WNO General Director Aidan Lang said about the season “Opera is a living art form and comes in all shapes and sizes. As such, it can cover the whole range of human emotions, and WNO’s 2022/2023 season is designed to express this variety. We want our productions to be moving, thought-provoking as well as hugely entertaining. Our audiences will be able to find connections between what is on stage and what they experience in their own lives. The operas in our Autumn Season touch on the idea of life’s transitions. La bohème is set at that carefree moment in the loves of a group of students, just before the harsh realities of adult life come crashing in. For Emilia Marty, the central character of The Makropulos Affair, the passage of life from youth, through adulthood to eventual death has been stalled for 300 years, until the natural order is restored in the opera’s closing passage. In Will Todd’s Migrations, we see transitions of a different kind, as the characters in the opera’s multiple narratives undertake a physical journey to a new land, be it enforced or voluntary. In Spring, music is the common thread. In The Magic Flute, music itself is shown to have a magical power that can tame wild animals, see us through dangerous moments, and even help us find our true loves. In Blaze of Glory!, the formation of a Male Voice Choir in a South Wales mining village after a recent coal-face disaster, demonstrates music’s true ability to heal pains and the joy in bringing communities together”. WNO Music Director Tomáš Hanus said “As Music Director I am very excited by the Company plans announced for the 2022/2023 Season. I am delighted to be conducting The Makropulos Affair both on the UK tour and also taking the production internationally to the home city of composer Janáček, also my home, conducting it at The Brno Festival. I am sure that audiences will enjoy a new take on Mozart’s classic The Magic Flute which I look forward to conducting in Spring 2023. The orchestral concerts throughout the year in addition to the productions and community activity on offer will provide people with much needed moments of live music to enjoy.” wno.org.uk


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