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Lulu

Alban Berg

New Production

Step into a surreal and decadent 1920s society jungle, where expensive suits and evening gloves hide the animals within...

Lulu weaves destruction as she snakes from man to man, living her life and no-one elses. But everything comes at a price, and the animals always come out at night...

This spring experience a landmark event in British opera. Lulu is David Pountney's first new production in his role as Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Welsh National Opera. Lulu is opera on an epic scale and at its most potent, dark and absurdly entertaining. 

Supported by the WNO Partnership, the WNO Lulu Circle and The John S Cohen Foundation 

"In Lulu, a bright flame flares up, dazzling us for a second with its beauty, only to be brutally snuffed out."

David Pountney, Chief Executive and Artistic Director

"It may be the most important show of the year"

@Operatraveller

FREE Pre-performance talks before every performance. Book your tickets for our pre-performance talks at the same time as your opera tickets. 

The Whole Story: The Cunning Little Vixen and Lulu 

Before the performances begin, our team of experts will guide you through the music, stories and background to each opera.

David Pountney in conversation

David Pountney explores the Free Spirits theme with a key figure from the arts.

Prologue

The Animal Tamer introduces the creatures in his menagerie, each of whom are identified as characters in the opera. Lulu is presented as a snake.

Act 1 scene 1

The Painter’s studio. Lulu is having her portrait painted, watched by the editor Dr Schon and his son Alwa, a composer. Schon and Alwa leave, and the Painter makes a pass at Lulu. The door opens to admit her husband, the Medical Specialist, who sees the two together and dies of a stroke. Lulu lets herself be taken over by the Painter.

Scene 2

A drawing room. The Painter, now married to Lulu, has made a fortune from his pictures. Schon’s engagement is announced in the papers. An old tramp, Schigolch, a father-figure to Lulu, comes to admire her success. Schon wants to end his affair with Lulu, and live a respectable life with his new fiancee. The Painter learns of Lulu’s infidelity, and cuts his throat. Schon calls the police.

Scene 3

A theatre dressing room. Lulu is dancing in Alwa’s latest ballet. They drink champagne and discuss Schon, and a prince who wants to marry Lulu and take her to Africa. Alwa thinks of writing an opera about her. The Prince enters, followed by Lulu, who has seen Schon with his fiancee in the audience and pretended to faint. Lulu tells Schon that she will go to Africa with the prince. Schon realises he cannot live without her, and writes to his fiancee, breaking off their engagement.

Act 2 scene 1

A grand room in Schon’s house. Schon and Lulu are now married. Countess Geschwitz, a lesbian, has come to invite Lulu to a lady artists’ ball, but Schon drives her away. He and Lulu go out, while the Countess returns and hides. Schigolch, the Acrobat and the Schoolboy, all admirers of Lulu, come in from the balcony. Alwa is announced, and declares his love for her. Schon overhears this, spots the Acrobat, and draws his revolver. He goes out again with Alwa, and the Acrobat hides. Schon gives Lulu the gun and tells her to shoot herself, but after he has locked the Countess in another room, Lulu shoots Schon instead. Lulu begs Alwa to save her, and the police arrive. In a silent film, we see Lulu’s arrest, trial and imprisonment, her infection with cholera, and her escape from the isolation hospital, disguised as the Countess. 

Scene 2

The same room, dusty and abandoned. Alwa, the Countess and the Acrobat wait for Schigolch to come and take the Countess to the hospital, where she will change places with Lulu. The Acrobat is to take Lulu to Paris, and perform with her. Alwa offers to bribe the Countess, who leaves with Schigolch. The Acrobat demands money from Alwa. The Schoolboy is told the false news that Lulu is dead. Schigolch brings Lulu, now so racked by illness that the Acrobat abandons her and goes to fetch the police. Schigolch goes to buy train tickets to Paris. Lulu and Alwa declare their love.

Act 3 scene 1

A salon in a Paris casino. There is a gambling party, where the guests discuss their booming Jungfrau shares. The Marquis threatens Lulu with exposure if she will not agree to being sold to a Cairo brothel. The Acrobat tries to blackmail Lulu, who abuses Countess Geschwitz for her lesbianism. The Banker learns that the Jungfrau shares are now worthless. Schigolch agrees to take the Acrobat to his hotel and murder him. The Marquis goes to fetch the police. Lulu sends the Countess and the Acrobat together to Schigolch’s hotel. She swaps clothes with the Groom and leaves for London with Alwa.

Scene 2

An attic room in London. Alwa and Schigolch wait for Lulu, now a prostitute, to return with a client. She brings a Professor. While they are in her room, Schigolch searches his pockets. Countess Geschwitz arrives with Lulu’s portrait. Alwa hangs it up, and Lulu leaves with the Countess. Alwa tells Schigolch that Lulu has given him a disease to which she herself is immune. Lulu brings her second client, a Negro. There is an argument about payment, and the Negro kills Alwa. Schigolch goes to the pub. The Countess returns, brooding on suicide. Lulu brings home her third client, Jack the Ripper. They go into her room, where he kills her. On his way out, he murders the Countess.

Conductor Lothar Koenigs
Director David Pountney
Set Designer Johan Engels
Costume Designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca
Lighting Designer Mark Jonathan
Associate Director Caroline Clegg
Lighting realised on tour by Paul Woodfield
Assistant Conductor Anthony Negus
Musical Preparation Stephen Wood
Genesis Assistant Director Polly Graham
Language Coach Jacqueline Pischorn
Stage Manager Katie Heath-Jones
Production Manager Robert Pagett

Cast includes
Animal Tamer/Schigolch
Richard Angas
Alwa
Peter Hoare
Doctor Schön/Jack the Ripper
Ashley Holland
Lulu
Marie Arnet
Artist/Negro
Mark Le Brocq
Professor of Medicine
Michael Clifton-Thompson
Prince/Manservant/Marquis
Alan Oke
Wardrobe Mistress/Groom/Schoolboy
Patricia Orr
Theatre Manager/Banker
Nicholas Folwell
Countess Geschwitz
Natascha Petrinsky
Acrobat Julian Close
Journalist Alastair Moore
Servant Julian Boyce
Designer Louise Ratcliffe
Mother Jessica Handley Greaves
15-year-old girl Anitra Blaxhall
Police Commissioner Simon Crosby Buttle
Clown Jasey Hall
Stagehand George Newton-Fitzgerald

 

All performances start at 7pm 

Running time approximately 3 hours 15 minutes including two intervals 

Sung in German with surtitles in English (and welsh in Cardiff and Llandudno) 

Co-production with the National theatre in Prague 

We have launched a new style of programme to reflect the company's themed seasons. You can purchase the combined programme for Lulu, The Cunning Little Vixen and Madam Butterfly for £5 on the night, or to pre-order your programme please call 029 2063 5032 at a cost of £6 including p&p.

Why not join in and nominate your own free spirit at http://wnofreespirits.tumblr.com?

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