Season of opera masterpieces
Verdi, Mozart and Donizetti at Venue Cymru
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