22 May - 12 Jun
Richard Ayres and Lavinia Greenlaw’s new opera Peter Pan receives its UK première in a new production by Keith Warner. This isn’t the sanitized, saccharine Peter Pan of many recent adaptations, instead Ayres and Greenlaw bring to life the danger, delightful anarchy and vibrancy of JM Barrie’s original story. Peter Pan will enchant anyone of eight years upwards making it the perfect opportunity to introduce young family members to opera.
Production supported by the Getty Family as part of British Firsts, Colwinston Charitable Trust and The John S Cohen Foundation.
WNO gratefully acknowledges support from PRS for Music Foundation.
Performances at the Royal Opera House are supported by the Welsh Government.
Conductor Erik Nielsen
Director Keith Warner
Set Designer Jason Southgate
Costume Designer Nicky Shaw
Lighting Designer Bruno Poet
Choreographer Michael Barry
Aerial & Fight Direction Ran Arthur Braun
Peter Pan Iestyn Morris
Wendy Marie Arnet
Mr Darling / Captain Hook Ashley Holland
Mrs Darling / Tiger Lily Hilary Summers
John Nicholas Sharratt
Michael Rebecca Bottone
Smee Marc Le Brocq
Nana Aidan Smith
The matinee performance for Peter Pan starts at 4.00pm in Cardiff. Evening performances start at 6.30pm in Cardiff and 7.15pm in Birmingham
Running time 2 hours 25 minutes including one interval
Sung in English with surtitles in English (and Welsh in Cardiff)
Co-production with Komische Oper, Berlin
Supported in part by the Getty Family as part of British Firsts
Opera in Three Acts
By Richard Ayres
Libretto by Lavinia Greenlaw after the play by J M Barrie
by arrangement with Schott Music Ltd, Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity and Samuel French Ltd
Late one night, while their parents are out, Wendy, Michael and John Darling, receive a visit from a strange boy called Peter Pan and the feisty fairy Tinker Belle. Peter has flown through the open window of their London home from a magical place called Neverland, an island full of pirates, red Indians, mermaids, enchanted creatures and mysterious forests. It doesn’t take much for Peter to persuade the children to leave their family home, and join him on his return. With a sprinkle of fairy dust, they take flight over the London skyline, to the horror of Mrs Darling, who rushes back to the house, but is too late: the children’s beds are empty.
The Lost Boys of Neverland impatiently await the return of their leader, Peter. Tinker Belle has become jealous of Wendy’s friendship with Peter, and flying ahead of the group, she shows her wicked side when she persuades the Neverland youngsters to try and shoot her rival down. Wendy falls to the ground, and when Peter arrives with John and Michael, he is outraged to discover Tinker Belle’s evil plan. Fortunately, Wendy revives, and she plays the role mother to the lost boys, who like Peter, have no family to call their own.
All is not peaceful in Neverland. The dastardly Captain Hook and his hoard of pirates seek revenge against Peter Pan, for chopping off his hand and feeding it to a crocodile. Hook is paranoid that the crocodile will devour him, and so constantly listens out for the tick-tock of his wrist watch that echoes from the belly of the beast. The Lost Boys are safe, for now.
Far from home, Wendy is becoming exhausted from the pressures of motherhood, and she, Michael and John are struggling to remember their parents. Meanwhile, Peter’s friend, the island native Tiger Lily, is kidnapped by the pirates, unleashing a bloody battle on the island, as the Lost Boys and the Darling children fight to rescue her. They succeed, although as Tinker Belle gleefully observes, Wendy becomes jealous of Peter’s admiration of Tiger Lily, and tensions in the children’s burrow are running high. As night falls, the homesick Darling children reminisce about their home, to the fascination of the Lost Boys. The mystery of Peter’s background deepens. He describes how he flew away from home, and returned many moons later to find another child sleeping in his bed. Unlike the lost boys, he does not want a family, and refuses to leave Neverland. Sulking Peter is left behind as they leave the house one by one, unaware that the pirates are waiting for them upstairs.
Captain Hook sneaks into the house, secretly poisoning Peter’s medicine while he sleeps. When Peter wakes, Tinker Belle tells him that his friends have been kidnapped. In order to save Peter from drinking the poisoned medicine before he flies off to the rescue, she drinks it herself, nearly dying in the process. Tinker Belle rallies round and together they fly to the pirate ship.
On the pirate ship
Hook is outraged that Peter has confounded his poisoning plan, and the two of them fight a dazzling duel. Hook realises he has met his match, and listens out for the ‘tick-tock’ of the crocodile before jumping into the sea to escape Peter. Little does he know, the watch has ceased to tick, and he leaps straight into its awaiting jaws. With this victory, all the children except Peter fly back to London.
Mr and Mrs Darling, and Nana the dog have almost lost hope of their children returning, and are full of remorse. At first they don’t believe that their children have come back, but are overwhelmed with joy when they realise Wendy, John and Michael are sleeping soundly in their beds once again. They welcome the Lost Boys into their family, giving them the family they have longed for. Peter Pan is left far behind, and looking out into the dark London sky one last time, Mrs Darling wonders if she will see the boy who never grew up.
Pre-performance talks are free and can be booked at the same time you book your opera tickets.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
Saturday 16 & Saturday 23 May 5.30pm; Sunday 31 May 3pm (Bring young members of your family along to this special preshow talk led by a storyteller. Tickets do not need to be booked in advance)
Thursday 11 June 6.15pm (Bring young members of your family along to this special preshow talk led by a storyteller. Tickets do not need to be booked in advance)