Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Welsh National Opera 2013-2014 analysis + touring

The Welsh National Opera 2013-2014 booklet has arrived. All operas can be heard at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff (pictured here, photo courtesy Thomas Deusing, San Antonio).  Although Cardiff is easily reached by train or road, many WNO productions tour, and the booklet's invaluable in tracking down what's on where.

The three Donizetti Tudor operas are being presented together : Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux. Each is interesting in its own right but hearing them together as a trilogy will enhance their impact. It's a brilliant idea!  It would be pointless for Wales to upstage London in Britten year, someone at WNO deserves great praise. It's much more satisfying, I think, to immerse in depth like this. Besides, the Tudors were originally Welsh, so WNO is connecting to Welsh history even if it's through the ears of an Italian. Tosca is on, too, around the same time, for contrast. The series starts in September in Cardiff, running through October. The Donizetti triology is also touring to Swansea, Oxford, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Llandudno and Southampton.  It's not coming near London, so Londoners might want to study the Cardiff dates.

In Spring 2014, a series on "Fallen Women" :  Manon Lescaut, La Traviata and much more unusual Hans Werner Henze's Boulevard Solitude. Lothar Koenigs, Music Director at WNO, says "Alongside Britten, Henze is surely the most important representative of opera in the 20th century". Boulevard Solitude (1951) was last heard in the UK at ROH some ten years ago, though it's heard frequently in Germany. There's at least one DVD. The WNO production will, of course, be new. The director is Mariusz Trelinski. Boulevard Soiltude connects to Manon Lescaut because it's a re-telling of the Abbé Prévost story. Henze had grown up during the Third Reich when "modern" music and jazz were banned. Still only in his mid 20's, Henze used the story to explore what to him were still "new" forms. Henze's music is fairly accessible, so even conservative audfiences won't find Boulevard Solitude too difficult. The "fallen women" series travels to Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Plymouth, Llandudno,  and Bristol.

Then WNO mounts a real challenge: Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, in Cardiff from 24th  May 2014, in Birmingham on 7 June and at the Royal Opera House, London, from 25th July. This will be the staging by Jossi Weiler and Sergio Morabito, first heard in Stuttgart ten years ago.  There's an audio recording of a later production. Moses und Aron is being paired with Verdi's Nabucco. The production was first seen in Stuttgart in January 2013, and ended its run last week. The director is Rudolf Frey. It's astute of WNO to pair the two operas because Nabucco is not, as some London critics think, a hymn to false gods and graven images but a statement of faith in an austere, enduring God. Follow this link to more information and production photos. There's a gaudy golden backcloth for those who need glitz. 

Also intriguing will be the Edgar Allan Poe double bill directed by David Pountney in 2014. Claude Debussy’s unfinished one-act opera The Fall of the House of Usher has been orchestrated by Robert Orledge, using additional material from sketches left by Debussy. It will be heard with Gordon Getty’s Usher House. Both will be presented in San Francisco in 2015. The picture right is Harry Clarke's illustration from an early French edition of Poe's poem. David Pountney directs.

Mark Anthony Turnage's Greek returns in the 2011 Music Theatre Wales production, which will also be heard in London.  In Summer 2013, before the full formal season, the WNO Youth Opera will be doing Britten's Paul Bunyan. This isn't touring for obvious reasons.

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