Welsh National Opera Announce Spring Season Of Intoxicating Love Stories
Two classic Puccini operas and a hidden opera gem make up Welsh National Opera's Love's Poisoned Chalice season, taking audiences on a journey of love, passion, heartbreak and tragedy through some of opera's greatest tear jerking music.
At the heart of the spring season is a new production of Swiss composer Frank Martin's Le Vin herbé, directed by former WNO Genesis Assistant Director Polly Graham in her first main scale production for WNO. Inspiring the season theme, Le Vin herbé ('the spiked drink') is based on the myth of Tristan and Isolde. Martin's composition investigates the very meaning and function of myths, as a group of people come together to narrate this tragic love story. Written between 1938 and 1941, Frank Martin's version of the lovers' tale is more in riposte than homage to Wagner, and influenced by the imminent World War as well as his own personal crisis of losing his first wife.
Iseult will be performed by Caitlin Hulcup and Tom Randle returns to WNO to sing the role of Tristan, with Catherine Wyn-Rogers singing the role of Iseult's Mother. Originally conceived for 12 singers, this production will be performed with the entire WNO Chorus taking the role of narrator as in a Greek Chorus, commenting on the dramatic action as the story unfurls. An orchestra of 7 string players and a pianist will be on stage throughout the opera, along with conductor James Southall.
As WNO Genesis Assistant Director, Polly Graham received mentorship from internationally-renowned opera directors including WNO Artistic Director David Pountney, Mariusz Trelinski and Pierre Audi. She returns to WNO following her work with WNO Youth Opera on Kommilitonen! during the summer of 2016 which received excellent reviews from the national media.
Opening the spring season is Puccini's much-loved La bohème in a production which WNO first staged in 2012 to high praise from both critics and audiences. Telling the tragic love story of Mimi and Rodolfo, this production transports audiences to the streets of bohemian Paris.
Annabel Arden's 1913 inspired pre-war production will be directed in this revival by Caroline Chaney and will feature a double cast for Mimi and Rodolfo. American soprano and rising star Marina Costa-Jackson makes her debut with WNO to sing Mimi, sharing the role with Jessica Muirhead who returns to WNO following her performance as Micaëla in Carmen in 2014. Tenors Dominick Chenes and Matteo Lippi will share the role of Rodolfo. La bohème will be conducted by Manlio Benzi who makes his debut at WNO.
Former WNO Associate Artist Gary Griffiths returns to WNO to take the role of Marcello, and Australian Lauren Fagan makes her WNO main stage debut in the role of Musetta. Jihoon Kim takes the role of Colline and Gareth Brynmor John takes the role of Schaunard.
Completing the trio of spring operas is another Puccini classic: Madam Butterfly. Joachim Herz's beautiful sepia-toned production will be directed in this revival by Sarah Crisp and conducted by Lawrence Foster who returns to WNO following his performance conducting the world première of The Fall of the House of Usher in 2014.
Punctuated with irresistible music including the Humming Chorus and the moving Un bel dì aria, Madam Butterfly tells the heartbreaking tale of Cio-Cio-San's love and loss at the hands of her American naval officer, Pinkerton. This production features a double cast for the roles of Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton. South Korean-born soprano Karah Son will share the role of Cio-Cio-San with Linda Richardson who returns to WNO following recent performances in I Puritani and Moses in Egypt. American tenor JoNathan Burton makes his WNO debut, sharing the role of Pinkerton with Paul CharLes Clarke who returns to WNO following performances in Sweeney Todd during the 2015/16 season.