The Welsh National Opera’s (WNO) programme for its 2020-21 season consists of seven operas, with two brand new pieces and one new production, the Cardiff-based company has announced.
The season opens in September – coronavirus allowing – with a revival of a 2008 production of Jenůfa (1904), continuing the company’s Janáček series. It will be conducted by WNO’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus, who has signed a new contract with the company, extending his tenure until 2026. The cast includes American lyric soprano Amanda Majeski making her role debut as Jenůfa.
October sees the premiere of new opera Migrations. With music by British composer Will Todd, five writers – Shreya Sen Handley, Edson Burton and Miles Chambers, Eric Ngalle Charles and Sarah Woods – have worked with Sir David Pountney to create a libretto of six stories, influenced by their own personal experiences of migration and working with refugees.
Sir David also directs the piece, while Matthew Kofi Waldren will conduct. The cast of 100 performers will include Lester Lynch, Marion Newman, Simon Bailey, Tom Randle, Musa Ngqungwana and Meeta Raval, along with a gospel choir, Bollywood dancers and a children’s chorus.
Rounding off the autumn is a continuation of the tour of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (1816). Former WNO Associate Conductor Kerem Hasan returns to conduct this production.
Heading into next year, the first production, kicking off in February, is a new version of Gounod’s Faust (1859). This UK premiere will be directed by Olivia Fuchs, with Alexander Joel returning to WNO to conduct. Joining the cast is Marinsky Theatre artist Russian soprano Natalya Pavlova, making her UK operatic debut in the role of Marguerite.
Also being performed from February is Verdi’s Il trovatore (The Troubadour, 1853). Last performed in 2011, this reproduction sees the return of WNO favourites American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, British baritone David Kempster and British soprano Linda Richardson. Pietro Rizzo conducts.
In Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose, 1911), Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans reprises her role as the Marschallin. She will be reunited with Canadian mezzo-soprano Lucia Cervoni as Octavian and joined this time by sopranos Soraya Mafi and Julie Martin du Thiel sharing the part of Sophie. Tomáš Hanus conducts this revival of a production which marked the start of his tenure as WNO music director in 2017.
The final production of the season is a brand new commission. Opening in Cardiff’s New Theatre, Blaze of Glory! is a new piece by director Caroline Clegg and librettist Emma Jenkins, with music composed by David Hackbridge Johnson.
Set in the 1950s, it follows the fortunes of a group of miners in a small village who embark on a musical odyssey by forming a male voice choir as a means of uniting the community after a disaster. The score features close harmony singing traditionally associated with male voice choirs, as well as big band, jive, lindy hop and African gospel music.
All seven productions will tour various venues across England and Wales. Visit the WNO website for details.
Part of the Welsh National Opera’s 2020-21 season, Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans returns as the Marschallin in a revival of Der Rosenkavalier (Bill Cooper).