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Valentine's Day at WNO

14 February 2019

The Feast of Saint Valentine, or Valentine’s Day as it is more commonly known, is celebrated annually on 14 February and it is the occasion in which lovers express their love for each other with romantic gestures such as flowers, chocolates and of course, tickets to the opera. It is therefore the perfect day to explain and explore the various relationships in our upcoming Season. The relationships between the various characters in any opera can be a very complex one, which in turn could make the themes and stories difficult to follow, especially if you are new to opera.

Wanting you to have the very best experience with WNO, here is our insight to the relationships of our heart-wrenching Spring 2019 Season. 

Un ballo in maschera
Riccardo is a political leader who has alienated many of his supporters. He is secretly in love with Amelia, the wife of his closest friend and adviser Renato, who has warned Riccardo of a conspiracy against him.  Following a demand to take action against Ulrica (a gypsy fortune-teller), Oscar (Riccardo’s assistant) gives a spirited defence of the woman which prompts Riccardo to visit her dwelling. When Ulrica prophesises a change of fortune for Silvano (a young sailor) a disguised Riccardo makes it come true by slipping a document of promotion into his pocket. During the same evening, Amelia visits Ulrica and confesses her guilty love for Riccardo, a conversation overheard by Riccardo. When Renato discovers this betrayal he is determined to take his revenge and joins the group of subversives (led by Samuel and Tom) who come to the conclusion that their best course of action is to get rid of Riccardo. At the masked ball, Renato strikes the fatal blow and Riccardo, with his dying breath, protests Amelia’s innocence and forgives his friend. 

The Magic Flute
Tamino is rescued from a serpent by three mysterious Ladies (attendants to the Queen of the Night). He meets Papageno, a bird-catcher, and the two are sent to rescue Pamina (daughter of the Queen of the Night), who has been abducted and imprisoned by Sarastro (Priest of the Sun). With a magic flute and a set of magic bells for protection, they are guided to Sarastro’s temple by three boys. Tamino encounters the Speaker (Sarastro’s deputy) who tells him that Sarastro is not the evil-doer that he was led to believe. Meanwhile Papageno finds Pamina and helps her escape from Monostatos (Sarastro’s Chief of slaves). Sarastro loves Pamina more than he should but understands that she loves Tamino and so invites Tamino to become an initiate of his brotherhood, undergoing a series of trials to prove himself worthy of Pamina’s love. While at the temple Papageno finds his true love, Papagena, one of Sarastro’s slaves who has assumed the disguise of an old lady.

Roberto Devereux
In order to protect her own reputation, Queen Elizabeth I (known as Elisabetta in the opera) has sent her beloved Roberto Devereux (the Earl of Essex) on a military mission to Ireland. In his absence Lord Cecil and her other advisors, who are jealous of his favourable position with the Queen, seize the opportunity to push through a charge of treason against him in Parliament. Unknown to the Queen, Devereux is deeply in love with Sara (Duchess of Nottingham), who during his absence has been forced into a loveless union with Nottingham (his friend and supporter). Later, Sara and Devereux admit their love for one another but acknowledge that it has no future. He entrusts her with the Queen’s ring (which was bestowed upon him to guarantee his freedom) and she gives him an embroidered scarf in return. When Elizabeth learns of Devereux’s betrayal, he must meet his inevitable end and the Queen must face old age and death alone.