This unique double-bill brings together the BBC National Orchestra of Wales alongside WNO Chorus and WNO Community Chorus
This unique double-bill brings together the BBC National Orchestra of Wales alongside WNO Chorus and WNO Community Chorus.
The Prisoner is a one-act opera and originally a radio opera, based on the short story, La torture par l’espérance (‘Torture by Hope’). It is paired with Act II from Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio, taking as its subject a theme close to the composer’s heart: the defeat of tyranny through man’s innate desire for liberty.
These operas will be directed by WNO Artistic Director David Pountney and conducted by former WNO Music Director Lothar Koenigs.
Cast & Creative
A mother is visiting her son in prison. She has a terrifying vision of King Philip of Spain which transforms into a premonition of death.
The prisoner recalls the miraculous moment when his jailor called him ‘Brother’, which inspired in him hope. His mother prays for his survival.
The jailor again calls him ‘Brother’, and urges him to maintain hope in order to live. He tells him about the uprising in Flanders against the tyrannical rule of Philip of Spain, and the prisoner once more believes in his hope for freedom.
Once the jailor has vanished, the prisoner is astonished to make out a ray of light, and gradually realises that his cell door is open.
The prisoner begins to creep along the passage outside his cell. After much hesitation, he finally emerges into a beautiful garden dominated by a cedar tree, with views of the mountains in the background. Ecstatic, he believes that he has found freedom.
But suddenly the Grand Inquisitor appears, and the prisoner understands that ‘It is hope which is the ultimate torture’.
Fidelio (Act II)
Don Pizarro, the prison Governor, has arbitrarily and illegally imprisoned his political enemy, Don Florestan.
Florestan’s wife, Léonore has obtained a job at the prison disguised as a man, working for the jailor, Rocco. Pizarro has learned that there is an impending government investigation into the prison, and therefore decides to murder Florestan. Rocco is ordered to go to the dungeon with his assistant, Léonore (in disguise), and open up the cistern to act as Florestan’s grave.
Rocco and Léonore open the cistern, and meanwhile she understands that the prisoner is indeed her husband, Florestan. Pizarro arrives, but when he moves to murder Florestan, Léonore draws a pistol and prevents him.
A trumpet announces the arrival of the Minister, Don Fernando, to inspect the prison. Florestan and the other prisoners are released, and all join in celebrating Léonore’s heroic achievement.
WNO FREEDOM Season is proudly sponsored by Associated British Ports (South Wales) – 32 years of supporting WNO and our shared communities.