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Opera: Not what you think

1 January 2020

This is going to be one heck of a year. Japan will build a robotic moon base, the first synthetic human brain will be completed and the flying car will be airborne. For Welsh National Opera, 2020 brings our Verdi trilogy to a close, introduces a host of new artists to the Company and sees the return of Sir Bryn Terfel to his home Company to make his role debut as Duke Bluebeard in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

However, if you’ve never been to the opera before you may wonder what all of the fuss is about. If you’ve only ever associated the word ‘opera’ with Dawn French’s character in Harry Potter or that of a warbling woman dressed as a Viking belting out a tune, then listen up, opera is not what you think it is and we are going to prove it to you.

If you believe that all female singers dress up as Vikings then you probably think these pre-conceptions are true too…

  • Opera is completely impenetrable
  • It lasts for hours on end
  • It’s too expensive
  • You have to wear a ball gown or an evening dress to attend the opera
  • You won’t have a clue what’s going on unless you’re a native Italian speaker

Thankfully, opera is far more accessible than you think. The term ‘opera’ simply means a piece of music with an accompanying libretto (libretto = text), performed on a stage. Here’s our myth-busting hero, Steve Speirs who performed with us during our Autumn 2017 Season, to tell you what opera is really like.

Still not convinced?
Some of classical music’s best and most famous tunes can be found in opera; from Puccini’s Nessun Dorma to Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro and Bizet’s Carmen(if you’re a Beyonce fan then you’ve probably heard the Habanera). Even if you haven’t experienced opera live, you have definitely heard the music before. Many pieces from  opera have been used in films, for example Largo al factotum from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville featured in Mrs Doubtfire; O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi featured in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Verdi’s Wuesta o Quella from Rigolettocan be heard in Wall Street.

Want to know more before attending a performance?
Come along to a pre-performance talk, where WNO Nicholas John Dramaturg Elin Jones will tell you exactly what to expect and answer all your burning questions. We also provide Welsh pre-performance talks at our north wales home, Venue Cymru


2020 is the year of relationships so why not commit to seeing some opera? Don’t let those pre-conceptions get in the way of something great. A love story develops in the midst of revolution in Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes; schemes threaten to disrupt the wedding of the century in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Carmen learns to exert power to improve her economic situation in Bizet’s Carmen

If you are already in love with the art form, why not solidify your commitment and become a WNO Friend or a WNO Partner