Get to know… WNO’s new Chair

17 February 2020

Yvette Vaughan-Jones was appointed the new Chair of Welsh National Opera in October last year and is the first woman in the role in the Company’s history. We caught up with Yvette to find out more about her background and love of opera.

When did you first experience opera?
I used to go with a school friend when I was around 16 years old to the Coliseum in London.  We would queue for returns and saw whatever was on – Carmen and the Love of Three Oranges were the most memorable performances we saw.

What’s your favourite type of opera and why?
I like unusual productions of operas and like to see people’s interpretations of the stories.  I thought this year’s WNO production of Carmen directed by Jo Davies was really interesting and I just love Mozart for the music.

What do you think opera brings to the stage?
The obvious answer is the combination of so many art forms, the music, voice and design but I think it is the emotional engagement through storytelling using the human voice that is so compelling.

What experience do you bring to the Company?
I have worked in the arts for three decades and have been a specialist and a generalist. I’ve worked in the public sector and also in the private sector in the arts. In all my varied and various roles I have tried to work very locally, involving people in their neighbourhoods as well as internationally and so I think these are the three key things that I bring – broad knowledge of the arts as a whole, experience of working with local groups and communities, and an international perspective.

You went to Japan for the Rugby World Cup last year – how was that experience?
Wonderful, my whole family are, like many people in Wales huge rugby fans as well as arts and culture fans and we had a great time. I had not been to Japan before, I have travelled to countries such as Korea and China and yet Japan is very different and deeply interesting both in the traditional culture and contemporary.  The World cup was embraced by the Japanese wherever we went and we felt very welcome.  The natural beauty of the place was stunning too.

Apart from the arts and rugby, are there any other hobbies or interests that you’re passionate about?
I love getting to know more about other countries and cultures – by reading, watching films or travelling and I have recently taken up golf – I am not very good but I love it.

What direction would you like to see WNO go in the future?
I would like to see it break down more barriers and engage a wider range of people. Becoming more relevant to more people is the big challenge for the sector as a whole and WNO is hugely aware of that and wants to lead the way in breaking down those obstacles to participation and enjoyment.