See the drama of the Tudors unfold live on and off-stage this autumn | Welsh National Opera

See the drama of the Tudors unfold live on and off-stage this autumn

10 Gorffennaf 2013

PRESS RELEASE: 10 July 2013

Donizetti’s three Tudor operas will be performed together for the first time in the UK by Welsh National Opera this autumn*.  New productions of Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux will be presented by two young directors Alessandro Talevi and Rudolf Frey and will tour to Cardiff, Swansea, Oxford, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Llandudno and Southampton.

The directors, who are making their WNO debut, will explore Donizetti’s re-imagining of the Tudor stories looking at the personalities of some of history’s most infamous characters.  Anne Boleyn’s final days in the scheming court of Henry VIII, the showdown should Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots have actually met and Elizabeth’s heart ruling her head as her grip on her throne begins to loosen.  Designer Madeleine Boyd will bring WNO’s Tudors to life on a dramatic single set with costumes that evoke the period with a modern twist.

Director Rudolf Frey says the meeting of the two Queens in Maria Stuarda will make for gripping theatre:

“Donizetti’s opera Maria Stuarda intrigues me on many levels as it is a sharp and concise interpretation of one of the most exciting episodes in Tudor history. The simple presence of the two Queens has an enormous explosive power.  In this production we will give them their own equal but distinctive habitat on stage - the larger than life Queens will almost appear as if they were precious artefacts in a contemporary exhibition

“Obviously the opera concentrates on a love-theme with Count Leicester as the catalyst of this triangle.  This raises questions about Elizabeth’s status as the ‘Virgin Queen’ when compared to the affairs and crimes Mary Stuart is being accused of.  We get an insight into the most vulnerable point of the two monarchs as they are being driven by their will to rule, survive and retain their female identity in a male-dominated society.” 

To give audiences a better insight into the turbulent world of the Tudors, WNO has for the first time formed a partnership with the National Trust to bring these courtly dramas to life.  Special events and days out are being held at National Trust houses where Tudor history would have been played out for real.  Historian Anna Whitelock and novelist Suzannah Dunn will explore what really happened behind opera’s version of history and excerpts of Donizetti’s music will be performed by singers in Tudor costume.

To tie in with the National Curriculum work on the Tudors, WNO will be working primary schools across the tour with an interactive project at National Trust properties.  7-11 year olds will take part in a creative adventure which will use ‘time travel’ to link history, literature and music during two day-long workshops held both in the classroom and on location at the houses.  

This season WNO will also be performing Michael Blakemore’s classic production of Tosca.

Please note there has been a cast change for Maria Stuarda.  Unfortunately due to doctor’s orders Christine Rice has withdrawn from this production. Judith Howarth now will sing the role of Mary Stuart and Adina Nitescu will sing Queen Elizabeth.

*Source – the Donizetti Society




Notes to Editors

Welsh National Opera is the national opera company for Wales. WNO is funded by the Arts Councils of Wales and England to provide large scale opera across Wales and to major cities in the English regions.

Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux are supported by a lead gift from the Peter Moores Foundation’s Swansong Project and the WNO Bel Canto Syndicate.

Maria Stuarda is supported by the Friends of WNO and the WNO Idloes Owen Society.

Tosca is a co-production with State Opera of South Australia and is recommended by Classic FM

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For more information, photos or interviews please contact Daryl Jenner, Senior Press Officer on 029 2063 5038 or or Lowri Pugh-Morgan, Press Officer on 029 2063 5037 or