Welsh National Opera Announce Summer Season 2011

Love is truly being put to the test this summer as Welsh National Opera (WNO) presents two very different tales of passion, while Welsh National Youth Opera (WNYO) journeys into a dystopian society devoid of sleep.

See WNO at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff from 20th May – 5th June, and Birmingham Hippodrome from 8th – 11th June. The WNYO world premier performances will be at Cardiff Coal Exchange from 15th – 18th July.

Così fan tutte
Welsh National Opera is proud of its tradition of nurturing and developing new talent and this season sees a wealth of home-grown talent come together in a new production of Mozart’s comedy. 

Director Benjamin Davis is inviting the audience to pack up its buckets and spades and head off to the 1950s British seaside in his first new production for the Company.  Benjamin has been with WNO since 2001 and has worked on more than 25 productions in his role as Staff Director. Last year he assisted Richard Jones in the Company’s award-winning Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.  Benjamin has also worked at the Royal Opera House, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Zuid and the Salzburg Festival. 

Welsh National Opera’s Associate Artist scheme has helped develop and support a number of young singers giving them extra coaching, singing lessons and valuable experience.  Former Associate Artists Camilla Roberts and Robin Tritschler return to the company as Fiordiligi and Ferrando. Her role debut as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte this season will be the first of three consecutive Mozart operas for Camilla; she will be making her role debut as Donna Anna in WNO’s new production of Don Giovanni this coming Autumn and will also be singing the Countess in some performances of The Marriage of Figaro next Spring.

Image by David Massey
Making his debut in this production is new WNO Associate Artist Gary Griffiths as Guglielmo, Gary studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London, winning the coveted Gold Medal Competition in 2009.  Gary will also be performing in the forthcoming new productions of Don Giovanni, La bohème and the revival of Beatrice and Benedict in WNO’s 2011/2012 season. 

Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies returns to WNO as Don Alfonso. Claire Ormshaw returns to the Company to sing the role of Despina.  Helen Lepalaan, fresh from her role as Prince Orlofsky in WNO’s spring production of Die Fledermaus, sings Dorabella.

Designer Max Jones, a graduate of  Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, transformed Wales Millennium Centre’s Weston Studio in 2009 into a forbidding and atmospheric London for Welsh National Youth Opera’s sell out Sweeney Todd.  Max has also worked for Glasgow Citizens Theatre and Clwyd Theatr Cymru.

Daniele Rustioni makes his conducting debut with WNO this season.  The 27-year-old has recently conducted Aida at Royal Opera House and has previously worked at La Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Teatro Regio in Turin and Lithuanian National Opera.

WNO’s Music Director Lothar Koenigs conducts this revival of Christopher Alden’s spectacular production of Puccini’s final opera.  Set in the 20th century and designed by Paul Steinberg, this interpretation creates a portrait of a society suffocated by a brutal regime where those who fail in their quest for love pay with their lives.

Photo by Brian Tarr

Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans makes her role debut as Liù with Gwyn Hughes Jones, most recently seen as Manrico in WNO’s spring revival of Il trovatore as the love-struck Calaf.  Anna Shafajinskaia returns as Turandot, having performed the role in this production in 2000. Italian bass Carlo Malinverno makes his WNO debut as Timur. David Stout is Ping, Philip Lloyd Holtam is Pang and Huw Llywelyn is Pong.

The Sleeper 
This July will see Welsh National Youth Opera perform its first new commission for three years. The Sleeper, performed at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay, composed by Stephen Deazley, artistic director of the maverick performance group Music at the Brewhouse, with a libretto written by Michael Symmons Roberts.  Michael most recently worked with WNO on the world premiere of The Sacrifice in Autumn 2007 which was awarded the RPS Award for Opera.

Image by David Massey
The Sleeper tells the story of a society where sleep has become obsolete, and a young group of vigilantes must protect the one remaining ‘sleeper’ in society. The Sleeper is a promenade performance and invites you to walk into a nightmarish world and follow the story as it unfolds around you. Rarely will you feel so up close and involved in the action of an opera. The performance includes a cast of 40 young singers, many of whom will be taking their first steps onto the opera career ladder.

Running alongside this production, WNO has launched The Archive of Sleep, a creative digital project inspired by the themes explored in The Sleeper. This project gives visitors to a website the chance to submit and document their sleep and dream patterns using audio, video, images and text. The stories posted on the website - - will be used by the cast and creative team to help develop the characters in the production.  

More information / show details available at the Welsh National Opera website.