Welsh National Opera (WNO) is set to perform a revival of Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, an opera for all the family, the company has announced. These outdoor shows of the much-loved fairytale mark the company’s return to the stage since the start of the coronavirus health crisis.
Wales’s national opera company celebrated its 75th anniversary on 15 April this year. This colourful production of Todd’s work kicks off the start of its 75th celebratory season.
Based on Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale, the opera was commissioned and originally produced by Opera Holland Park in 2013. Eleven-year-old Alice lives in the not terribly exciting town of Grimthorpe. On a boring Wednesday in the summer holidays Alice’s family, wandering around town, gets caught in a downpour. They rush into the nearest shelter, which turns out to be a pet shop. Alice is lost in a daydream about exotic holidays when she is jolted out of her reverie by one of the animals – a white rabbit – talking to her.
Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn performs the title role of the young girl who goes on a fantastic adventure, reprising a part she played in the opera’s premiere. The audience will accompany Alice as she follows the talking white rabbit, taking tea with a Mad Hatter, March Hare and sleepy dormouse and ultimately rescuing them from the grumpy Queen of Hearts and her henchmen Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
The cast also includes baritones Benjamin Bevan and Kelvin Thomas, countertenor Feargal Mostyn-Williams and soprano Aoife Miskelly, along with members of WNO’s award-winning Chorus. The production will also see WNO Associate Artists Aaron O’Hare and Adam Gilbert make their stage debuts, while new Weston Jerwood Directing Fellow Gareth Chambers joins the directing team.
Will Todd’s score, performed by a small orchestra, is a mix of jazz, musical and opera styles and perfectly accompanies the libretto – by award-winning comedy/dramedy writer Maggie Gottlieb – to create a fun and engaging story that remains true to the original book. Plans are also being made for a programme of family-friendly activities to run alongside the production.
The outdoor performances will be held from 25 June until 3 July at the National Trust’s Dyffryn Gardens near Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan. The action will take place on all sides of the audience and will move between two locations in the gardens. The production is fully in line with the Welsh Assembly’s rules on social distancing, with a limited capacity of 70 audience members per performance.
“I’m so excited that audiences in Wales will get a chance to experience Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with Welsh National Opera,” composer Will Todd commented. “It’s been such a fun piece to write the music for, and for me, it’s all about making sure the audience, young and old, have a brilliant time listening to and watching live opera.”
WNO General Director Aidan Lang added: “We are delighted to be in a position to perform to live audiences and what better way to come back than with a family opera for all to enjoy. We are really looking forward to sharing the joy and experience of live opera once again.”
Tickets for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are on sale now. Visit WNO’s website for further details.
Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn sings the title role in Will Todd’s family favourite, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Alex Brenner).