Winter Wonders at WNO

24 December 2020

Christmas Eve; a day that splits the nation into two groups, those who calmly start to enjoy their immaculately prepared festive period or those wondering where the decorations could possibly be hiding. Whichever of these groups you fall into, sit back and enjoy this little read from Welsh National Opera - we promise you’ll find those decs - they are definitely in the loft somewhere.

Holiday season is usually dominated by the fun-filled pantomime shows that cover the nation, making kids scream ‘he's behind you’ and adults chuckle at the not-so-subtle innuendos. Sadly, this year they are few and far between, or being done online if at all, so we thought we would think about our favourite Winter operas instead to get us in the spirit.

A  snow-covered firm favourite is La bohème; tragedy seems that much more fitting if it's in the freezing cold. WNO’s Annabel Arden-directed production, first performed in 2012, in fact features snow drifting beautifully down onto a particularly poignant scene. Students that come and see the performance might actually identify with the main characters for once; especially when, in order to keep warm, they burn the manuscript of Rodolfo's drama. Or, like Marcello and Musetta, just want to go out and have a good time - harder to do this year more than ever before with clubs closed and pubs following whichever tier system its currently in.

Another WNO Christmas production is Iain Bell's A Christmas Carol, performed in 2015. Iain Bell himself said in an interview on Wise Music, ‘Rather than a cheery Christmas fairy tale steeped in mistletoe and holly as it is often portrayed, I was far keener to explore the idea of Scrooge fighting for the redemption of his very soul and the fearful elements of his visitations from all four spectres.’ Very apt for how Christmas feels this year.Hansel and Gretel is also a winter wonder although we are not really sure why but it must be something to do with thoughts of giant gingerbread houses and copious amounts of sweets.

Apparently there is also an opera called The Christmas Elf out there in the wide world just waiting for you to find it. Also known as Das Christ-Elflein (The Little Elf of Christ) this opera in two acts by Hans Pfitzner is about a little Elf wondering what Christmas is all about and, after asking some rather grumpy humans, discovers the true meaning for himself. We don’t want to give the end away though so we’ll leave it there.

Happy Christmas Eve from Welsh National Opera - go on, have another mince pie - you deserve it.