Sea­son of opera mas­ter­pieces

Verdi, Mozart and Donizetti at Venue Cymru

Bangor Mail - - Your Guide -

OPEN­ING the spring sea­son of the Welsh Na­tional Opera on Wed­nes­day, April 24 at 7.30pm is a new pro­duc­tion of Un ballo in maschera, where love, power and pol­i­tics col­lide to cre­ate a tale of de­cep­tion, in­trigue and re­venge. The sec­ond in­stal­ment in WNO’s Verdi tril­ogy, Un ballo in maschera is di­rected by David Pount­ney, con­ducted by WNO Con­duc­tor Lau­re­ate Carlo Rizzi and is a co-pro­duc­tion with Oper der Stadt Bonn.

Un ballo in maschera is a study in King­ship, and the heady re­la­tion­ship be­tween per­sonal and pub­lic af­fairs. The story re­veals the tragic love tri­an­gle be­tween Amelia, her hus­band Re­nato and her lover the King (Ric­cardo), Re­nato’s best friend.

The King is ob­sessed with the­atre and dis­guise, and this builds cli­mac­ti­cally to a masked ball in a back­drop of the grow­ing con­spir­acy against him from his po­lit­i­cal and per­sonal en­e­mies. De­spite Ric­cardo ul­ti­mately re­nounc­ing his love for Amelia, the cul­mi­na­tion of the piece sees Re­nato dis­cov­er­ing the af­fair and tak­ing mat­ters into his own hands with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.

The cast will in­clude highly re­garded Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes-Jones who will sing Ric­cardo with Mary Elizabeth Wil­liams as Amelia and Roland Wood as Re­nato.

Raimund Bauer’s ‘Verdi Ma­chine’ set de­sign of three in­ter­lock­ing frames will again fea­ture in this pro­duc­tion, but will look dis­tinctly dif­fer­ent from the set of La forza del des­tino, de­signed to re­flect the way the King con­stantly plays with truth and dis­guise, and loses his sense of re­al­ity in his fas­ci­na­tion with the­atre.

Also in the spring is a re­vival of Donizetti’s Roberto Dev­ereux orig­i­nally di­rected by Alessan­dro Talevi, Roberto Dev­ereux comes to Venue Cymru on Fri­day, April 26. First per­formed in 2013 as part of WNO’s Tudor sea­son to crit­i­cal ac­claim, it features Madeleine Boyd’s strik­ing de­signs.

Carlo Rizzi will con­duct in Cardiff and Birm­ing­ham, with James Southall tak­ing the ba­ton for the later dates of the tour.

Sung in Ital­ian, the opera is loosely based on the life of Robert Dev­ereux, the Sec­ond Earl of Es­sex, and his close re­la­tion­ship with Queen Elizabeth I. Fas­ci­nated by El­iz­a­bethan his­tory, Donizetti in fact wrote three operas heav­ily fea­tur­ing ‘the Vir­gin Queen’ and in all three the ru­mours of a fiery tem­per and love life are placed at the heart of the story.

In Roberto Dev­ereux the Queen is ro­man­ti­cally linked with the epony­mous Earl of Es­sex as he is tried for trea­son.

Bel canto vir­tu­oso Barry Banks re­turns to WNO as the tit­u­lar Dev­ereux, along­side so­prano Joyce El-Khoury as Elis­a­betta, both mak­ing role de­buts.

Also join­ing the cast are Justina Gringyté as Sara and Gary Grif­fiths as Not­ting­ham.

Com­plet­ing the spring sea­son on Thurs­day 25 & Satur­day April 27 is a re­vival of Mozart’s ever-pop­u­lar The Magic Flute with a pro­duc­tion orig­i­nally di­rected by Do­minic Cooke, sung in English and con­ducted by Damian Io­rio, mak­ing his de­but with WNO.

An­other tale of royal ad­ven­ture, this Magritte-in­spired pro­duc­tion places Prince Tamino’s quest to res­cue a princess and find true love into a sur­real, dream-like world that features an an­gry lob­ster, a news­pa­per-read­ing lion and a fish trans­formed into a bi­cy­cle.

The witty story of en­chant­ment and colour­ful char­ac­ters along­side Mozart’s mu­sic re­sults in a unique piece of opera, par­tic­u­larly well known for its soar­ing arias sung by The Queen of The Night.

■ Tick­ets are now on sale for the events at Venue Cymru and are avail­able to pur­chase through the web­site www.venue­cymru.co.uk and via the Box Of­fice on 01492 872000.

■ The Magic Flute ■ Un ballo in maschera

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