The Welsh National Opera (WNO) has revealed its plans for the company’s 75th year in 2021, with a season of new productions and a revival of an old favourite, as well as initiatives to bring opera to new audiences, develop new talent and look forward to the future of opera.
The company’s diamond anniversary celebrations begin with the 2021 spring/summer season, comprising a new version of Gounod’s Faust (1859), a revival of a 2017 production of Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose, Strauss, 1911) and Blaze of Glory!, a brand new commission.
“WNO was born in the communities of south Wales, and today our reach extends to numerous cities across the UK, as well as overseas,” Aidan Lang, WNO general director, commented. “A 75th year is a good moment for us to reinforce our belief that WNO is here for all those communities, and to create work that is both emotionally thrilling but also meaningful and resonant, and which reflects modern life in all its glorious diversity and complexity.”
Get Into Opera is a new initiative for WNO’s 75th year to encourage more young people to try opera for the first time. It will provide anyone under 35 with access to ticket offers, upgrades, special events and exclusive digital content. WNO will also continue to offer £5 tickets for those under 16.
An important aspect of WNO’s celebrations, the company claims, is its outreach programme. In a statement, it said it is “committed to engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds through the power of opera, and our extensive touring pattern provides the ideal platform to do this”. It has set up a series of ‘hubs’ in locations to which the company tours. These will see a programme of activities based on developing talent, health and wellbeing, family and intergenerational events, and working with refugees and asylum-seekers.
The company is looking to recruit a new programme manager for talent development. The appointee will focus on creating clear progression routes from grassroots level right through to nurturing young talent and professional development.
A key element of this will be WNO Team, a new training programme to provide opportunities for young people from varied backgrounds who might otherwise not get the chance to develop a career in opera. The scheme aims to recruit up to 10 young company members between the ages of 16-25 from BAME and low socio-economic backgrounds to work within the artform.
WNO will also commission a new creative project that will ask the question: ‘What might an opera look and sound like 75 years from now?’ This will highlight how technology, storytelling and opera can work together to provide an immersive experience.
The award-winning WNO Youth Opera will take to the main stage of Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, in September 2021 for a new production of Shostakovich’s Cheryomushki (1959). The 75th anniversary will culminate with a special concert at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, on 9 December 2021 to celebrate the last 75 years of singing at WNO, while looking forward to the future of opera.
Lang added: “Our purpose as a company is to harness the visceral nature of music with potent drama to provide a wide range of operatic experiences, be they on the big stages of our main touring venues or in the intimacy of one of our schools or community projects. In our increasingly fractured world, opera has the capacity to bring people together and unite them in their shared humanity.”
WNO General Director Aidan Lang looks forward to the opera company’s 75th year (Gareth Iwan Jones).