Spring 2019 opens this week (Sat 9 Feb 7.30pm) at WNO’s home, Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, with our brand new production Un ballo in maschera kick-starting a season that runs all the way until 11 May – surely our longest yet?
With our usual residencies at Birmingham and Milton Keynes in March, we then travel to Plymouth, Bristol and Llandudno in April, ending with our final week in Southampton from 9 to 11 May. At each venue, alongside Un ballo in maschera, there’s also the chance to see two revival productions: from our Tudors Trilogy, the critically acclaimed version of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, followed by the perennially popular production of The Magic Flute by Mozart. Please note that we are not performing Un ballo in maschera in Southampton.
As the second instalment in our Verdi Trilogy, Un ballo in maschera brings back the creative team behind last Spring’s La forza del destino, led by WNO’s Artistic Director David Pountney. So we can expect a highly dramatic, striking staging on the same basic set structure as La forza, with the three walls that can be reinterpreted in various ways to suggest different locations within the opera. This time each wall features many miniature theatre prosceniums, physically representing Verdi’s obsession with the arts and disguise – playing with the idea of ‘theatre’ as a language. With its combination of tragic action and sophisticated comedy, all dressed up in gothic attire, we are looking forward to being enthralled once again by our Verdi Trilogy.
With an exciting new twist on the powerful spider leitmotif, Director Alessandro Talevi is bringing a few changes to his Roberto Devereux now that it is a stand-alone piece, and following his personal experiences in the intervening years. He has been developing the insect theme already present in the production, amplifying the suggestion of the spider’s web of secrecy and duplicity. The latest inspiration for which was the beetle infestation of his home town. *Spoiler alert* The Queen as spider motif has grown in use, to be joined by the suggestion of the Chorus as scuttling beetles, and even a trapped butterfly in Sara’s perilous situation. Added to the stunning costumes and visually strong moments, this dark tragedy will get hearts beating for all kinds of reason.
To contrast the darkness, catch our colourful and witty production of The Magic Flute with its surrealist influences, one for all the family to enjoy. Full of animals, quests and trials as well as wonderful wacky inventions such as the flying bicycle and a whole host of bowler hats, Mozart’s fairy tale opera always entertains. And with WNO favourite, Samantha Hay, again appearing as The Queen of the Night his most magical aria will be spectacular
The Spectator on Opera North’s recent production
Samantha Hay was the Queen of the Night; ardent as well as imperious, she just gets better and better in this role, and her top notes practically scorched the retinas.
(The role of The Queen of the Night is shared with Anna Siminska. Samantha Hay performs at Milton Keynes Theatre, Theatre Royal Plymouth, The Bristol Hippodrome, Venue Cymru in Llandudno and Mayflower Theatre in Southampton)
Don’t forget our final concert in this year’s International Concert Series at St David’s Hall in Cardiff on Wednesday 20 March, with WNO’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus at the helm. Join Tomáš and the WNO Orchestra for a night of Richard Strauss, Mozart and Brahms, plus Pianist Paul Lewis as soloist for the night, playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 27.
All in all, there is a lot on offer from WNO this spring.