As we head into rehearsals for our Autumn season, our opening production of War and Peace brings Artistic Director David Pountney and Music Director Tomáš Hanus back together again to produce another epic work for WNO.
War and Peace is the latest collaboration by the Company’s artistic leaders who have received critical and audience acclaim for their previous pieces. In Autumn 2017, their first joint WNO projects were Khovanshchina and From The House of the Dead, both of which received 5 star reviews from the national press and particular praise for bringing out the truth of the work. They had already worked together on From The House of the Dead at Savonlinna Festival, Finland a year earlier and, on joining WNO, Tomáš reflected on what a privilege it was for him to work with David and the WNO Company.
This ambitious production takes the opera back to a version which is closer to composer Prokofiev’s original vision for the score. His initial plan was for an intimate interpretation of the Tolstoy story, but was put under pressure by the authorities to make it more patriotic in order to maintain morale during the war. Based on Katya Ermolaeva and Rita McAllister’s new critical edition, WNO’s new production brings in additional ballroom scenes with opulent dances and arias which are sure to play to Tomáš’s strengths and showcase the WNO Orchestra and Chorus at their absolute best. On the stage itself David brings a huge array of characters to life, with many singers taking on multiple roles and an extended Chorus to match the scale of that in last season’s Khovanshchina. The sheer scale of the story will, additionally, be brought to life via projections which allows the action to move from the opulence of the palace to the battlefields of the 1812 invasion.
To find out more about the production, you can join David and Tomáš at the latest in our series of Opera Insights where they will discuss War and Peace in more detail, giving you the background to the production and sharing some behind the scenes knowledge of how they work together to bring such a huge scale opera to the stage.