The WNO Orchestra was formed in 1970. Since then, it has established itself as one of the finest orchestras in the UK, highly praised for its distinction in wide-ranging operatic repertoire, as well as for its extremely varied concert work and portfolio of recordings. Resident at Wales Millennium Centre, the Orchestra is one of two permanent, full-time ensembles at the heart of the Company, alongside the WNO Chorus. Former Music Directors of Welsh National Opera and its Orchestra include Carlo Rizzi and the late Sir Charles Mackerras. Lothar Koenigs joined Welsh National Opera as Music Director in 2009.
In addition to its substantial operatic work with the Company, in its own right the Orchestra’s stature and reputation as a world-class ensemble is demonstrated by its involvement as part of the St David’s Hall International Concert Series in Cardiff, as well as through many other high profile concert and festival engagements. This is enhanced further through a variety of special relationships and partnerships that widen the Company’s reach.
Welsh National Opera Orchestra In recent years, engagements have included the Edinburgh Festival for a concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde under Lothar Koenigs and a major collaboration with Cape Town Opera for the South African company’s UK tour of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Michael Williams’s Mandela Trilogy, both at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff and at the London Coliseum. Other recent concerts took place in Cardiff (including the Welsh Proms), Bristol, Truro, Barnstaple, St David’s for the Fishguard Festival and in London at the Royal Opera House, Barbican and also the Royal Festival Hall. With the full Company, the Orchestra toured to both the Sultanate of Oman in 2013 and to the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland this Summer. The Orchestra is also involved in plans for a series of concerts in Dubai over New Year 2015. Other future plans include playing for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and involvement in the prestigious Royal Opera House/Jette Parker Young Artists’ concert at the ROH in summer 2015. This will be alongside the full Company performances at the ROH for every summer over the next two years as part of our annual residency. Other strong and deeply engaging relationships abound amongst the Company’s broad and expanding reach. A major partnership, started in 2013, has been taking place in the Torbay area of Devon each year which features the Orchestra and chamber ensembles in concert, together with a community and education programme delivered to new audiences and participants.Beyond the conventional performance arena for an opera orchestra, this ensemble is committed to developing young talent and has very important side-by-side mentoring and rehearsal/performance schemes with young players at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and also at Birmingham Conservatoire.