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WNO in Morocco

12 December 2019

Despite our Autumn Season coming to an end, Welsh National Opera was still fortunate enough to squeeze in a fleeting trip to Morocco’s capital, Rabat. Company members and WNO Orchestra were joined by soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams and tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones. Invited by Thomas Reilly, British Ambassador to Morocco, WNO showcased two outstanding orchestral concerts and provided two Schools workshops in an effort to introduce opera and classical music to local residents. 

The first of our concerts took place at the Royal Academy. We began with a shortened version of our A Journey to Vienna programme led by David Adams (Leader) and WNO regular Mary Elizabeth Williams. Mary Elizabeth has performed with WNO many times as our leading lady from Die Fledermaus to Un ballo in maschera but this was her first time as a soloist in a WNO Orchestra concert. The audience was captivated by Brahms (Hungarian dance No 1), Strauss (Csardas, Die Fledermaus and The Blue Danube) and Lehar (The Merry Widow). The full repertoire will be performed in the new year, touring various venues from Cardiff to Bangor.

An Evening of Italian Opera was the second and final concert of our short trip. Led by our Conductor Laureate, Carlo Rizzi, the National Theatre was alive with music. Sharing the stage with Mary Elizabeth Williams this time was Gwyn Hughes Jones who has performed with us in both Verdi’s La forzadel destino andUn ballo in mascherain recent Spring Seasons. Performing classics from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and of course Verdi’s La forza del destino and Un ballo in maschera. The auditorium was on their feet with cheers and clapping for the encore to Verdi’s Brindisi.

WNO’s Youth and Community department, with a small ensemble of the Orchestra, delivered two workshops to the children of Abdelmoumen Elementary School. They were able to hear first-hand the enchanting sound of classical music. To bring their imaginations to life we kick-started the activities with body percussion and a clapping game to introduce the importance of rhythm in music. 

Hearing the story of Mozart’s, The Magic Flute fuelled the children with inspiration. They were able to create freeze frame images of each stage of the tale and showcase them to their classmates. To conclude there was the impressive Der hölle rache (The Queen of the Night’s aria) that was sung by soprano Stacey Wheeler to show the school children the sheer power of the human voice.

2019 has brought WNO many opportunities to highlight the amazing talent that is coming from Wales. Here’s to another year of sharing Wales, inspiration and opera with the world.