One opera trilogy, three established directors and two of Britain’s most celebrated theatre designers are just some of the ingredients for two new productions and a world premiere in Welsh National Opera’s forthcoming spring season.
For over 200 years the character of Figaro has remained one of opera’s most theatrical creations. Welsh National Opera will celebrate the story of this wily character with his lust for life and a desire for matchmaking and mischief in a trilogy of operas in their spring season Figaro Forever.
The season of operas, all sung in English, features new productions of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro together with the World Premiere of Figaro Gets a Divorce by Russian born British composer Elena Langer with a libretto by WNO’s Artistic Director David Pountney.
The exceptional design team for the trilogy will be set designer Ralph Koltai CBE RDI and costume designer Sue Blane MBE. Koltai is generally acknowledged as the principal innovator of British Theatre Design and has designed some 250 productions of opera, dance, drama and musicals throughout the world. His contemporary set for the WNO productions will feature in all three operas in a unique design system evoking the changing worlds in which Figaro must operate.
Sue Blane is one of the UK’s leading film and theatre costume designers who has been at the forefront of the European theatre scene for over forty years and is particularly well known for her original designs for the iconic Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Beginning the story is The Barber of Seville with its much loved characters and music inspired by the comedy by Beaumarchais. The Barber of Seville will be directed by young British theatre director and comic opera specialist, Sam Brown, making his WNO debut with Welsh National Opera Orchestra conducted by James Southall. Australian born baritone Nicholas Lester also makes his WNO debut and takes on the role of the scheming Figaro. Andrew Shore reprises his recent role with English National Opera as Bartolo, whilst British soprano Claire Booth will sing the role of Bartolo’s young ward Rosina. Tenor Nico Darmanin takes the role of her lover Count Almaviva with Richard Wiegold as Basilio.
Mozart’s ever popular The Marriage of Figaro continues with the spirited characters in the story of Count Almaviva’s household with a host of intrigues and romances all packed into one day :Figaro’s Wedding Day! Tobias Richter, Director General of Grand Théâtre de Gèneve, directs and Lothar Koenigs conducts his last opera as the Company’s Music Director. David Stout sings Figaro and is alongside Anna Devin as Susanna with Mark Stone and Elizabeth Watts as the troubled Count and Countess Almaviva.
The World Premiere of Figaro Gets A Divorce will be conducted by Justin Brown, General Music Director of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Germany, and Music Director Laureate of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in the United States. In an affectionate sequel to Mozart’s classic, the final chapter of the story is brought to a close for these much loved characters, whose relationships are put under intense strain by political instability in 1930’s Europe. David Stout, Mark Stone and Elizabeth Watts continue their roles as Figaro and Count and Countess Almaviva for the opera, joined by a cast that includes Marie Arnet (Susanna), Alan Oke (The Major), Andrew Watts (The Cherub) Naomi O’Connell (Serafin) and Rhian Lois (Angelica).
Composer Elena Langer has written compositions in diverse genres including opera and multimedia, orchestral, chamber and choral works and together with WNO’s Artistic Director David Pountney has created a lyrical and striking ending to Figaro’s story.
David Pountney said “I had been intrigued by the idea of how the story might end and what the world of Figaro sounds like in the hands of a contemporary composer. As well as the everyday troubles, the rumblings of revolution were getting closer in The Marriage of Figaro posing the question of how these characters would survive as their world breaks apart.”