Welsh National Opera to host annual Open Day in Cardiff

On Saturday June 4th 2011, Welsh National Opera (WNO) will be inviting members of the public to take a look backstage at its home in Wales Millennium Centre with its popular Open House event.

From theatre tours to singing workshops, Open House gives people the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes of an opera company, whether they are new to the art form or a regular member of the audience. All the events are free and suitable for all ages with lots of activities to get involved in and watch during the day. This is the third time that the Company has held Open House at WMC. Since 2010 the event has alternated yearly between Cardiff and Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

As well as seeing technical aspects of producing a show there will be opportunities to join WNO’s professional singers and take part in Come and Sing Turandot to learn how to perform choruses from Puccini’s opera. There will also be the chance to sing part of the famous Nessun Dorma aria with a member of WNO’s Chorus. No experience is necessary to take part in this workshop and there will be a closed performance at the end of the two-hour session.

Those who would prefer to watch the professionals being put through their paces will be able to see an Opera Masterclass with John Fisher in the Weston Studio. The Masterclass will demonstrate how a singer is coached and the audience will see the different techniques used in vocal training.

During the afternoon you can join members of WNO’s Orchestra for a Percussion Workshop to learn how to play various instruments. No experience is necessary – just come along and have some fun and make some noise!

Visitors will also be able to have a sneak preview of Welsh National Youth Opera’s new commissionThe Sleeper as the cast rehearse prior to its World Premier on 15th July. There will also be a performance of part of the opera on the Glanfa Stage in the foyer of WMC at 6pm during Open House.

Open House will also give members of the audience the chance to watch a live rehearsal of Così fan tutte with On Stage Così as the Company prepares to perform the Mozart opera that evening. This is a hugely popular event which gives a real insight into how WNO prepares for a live performance. While this event is free, spaces are limited and it’s advised to get your tickets as early as possible. Tickets can be pre-booked on 0800 328 2357 or e-mail

Staying backstage, WNO’s Technical Department will be revealing some of their secrets with Technical Insights. Wigs and Make-up will be demonstrating how they transform singers with wigs made of real hair while their colleagues in Costume will have garments that are worn on stage on display so the fine details and workmanship can be seen up close. Wardrobe staff will be on hand to explain tricks of the trade - how they dress singers for period productions, quick costume changes and practical demonstrations on corsetry and tying bow ties.

WNO’s skilled props technicians will also be showing some of the weird and wonderful things they have created for productions.
The Turandot Family Workshop will explore the story of Puccini’s final masterpiece through games, acting and dressing up and for those feeling arty then there will be an Arts and Craftsmaking workshop running all day in the Canford area off the Glanfa Foyer.

A special performance of Cosy Café by members of WNO Chorus will see a forty-minute long version of Così fan tutte performed on the Glanfa Stage. This is Così fan tutte as you’ve never seen it before with Claire Hampton and Fiona Harrison playing all the characters.

WNO is excited to bring Streetwise Opera’s highly successful series of short films Fables – A Film Opera to Open House. It’s the first time that these award-winning films will be screened in Wales. The films were created by some of the UK’s leading composers and filmmakers and are based around the magical world of legend and folklore. The classic The Boy who Cried Wolf, the North East legend of The Hartlepool Monkey; the literary, Oscar Wilde’s poignant The Nightingale and the Rose and the contemporary Shinishi Hoshi’s captivating Hey Come on Out! Fables – A Film Opera premiered to sell-out audiences at Spitalfields Winter Music Festival in December 2010, winning four-star reviews in The Times, Telegraph, Evening Standard and Independent on Sunday.

And finally while most of the activities will be happening in and around WNO’s home at Wales Millennium Centre, city centre shoppers and visitors to Cardiff Bay will also find themselves involved with Open House when Così fan tutte takes to the streets……

WNO Max Director Rhian Hutchings said:"Open House is a fabulous opportunity to come and find out how an opera company works and meet all the people who make the productions from singers and players to prop makers and make-up artists. It's always a great day, with a wide range of workshops, events and experiences, and, as always we will be springing some special operatic surprises on those attending! "