Stephen Fry gives voice to Paul Bunyan - Press Release

2 May 2013

PRESS RELEASE: 3 May 2013

Welsh National Youth Opera’s new production of Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan, featuring the voice of Stephen Fry, will open at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff this August. Stephen Fry pre-recorded the off stage spoken role of the larger than life character Paul Bunyan, who is the boss of a group of lumberjacks and has a vision of what America could be. He orders them to clear the forests to make way for modern America.

Stephen Fry, an opera lover and a lifelong Richard Wagner fan has previously played the Major-Domo in a recording of Ariadne auf Naxos for Chandos Records and he provided the translation for Kenneth Branagh’s film The Magic Flute which celebrated Mozart’s 250th anniversary. He also appeared in the BBC film ‘Wagner & Me’ which followed preparations for the 2009 Bayreuth Festival. 

This year’s WNO Youth Opera production involves 40 singers, 35 orchestral players, 8 technical students, 13 costume makers and 10 wigs & make-up students, all aged between 16 & 25 years.  Also featuring in the opera will be over 100 members of Only Boys Aloud, who are previous Britain’s Got Talent finalists. Following the release of their Sony album in November 2012 they got to number one position on the iTunes classical singles chart. Those involved are not only from the length and breadth of England and Wales but also from Italy and Poland. 

WNO Youth Opera offers a professional experience to all participants as they produce the show on Wales Millennium Centre’s main stage, having been mentored by Welsh National Opera staff and industry professionals. This year’s director is Martin Constantine who is director of ENO Opera Works and recently directed the world premiere of the opera The Owl and the Pussycat for the Royal Opera House. Alice Farnham who has previously been guest conductor with Singapore Lyric Opera, Danish Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet Covent Garden will conduct Paul Bunyan

Stephen Fry who has pre-recorded his role, which will be incorporated into the production via voice-over and visual projection says: “As a lifelong opera lover I’m thrilled to be part of Welsh National Youth Opera’s new production of Paul Bunyan. Harnessing the energy and passion of this young company is an extremely appropriate way to celebrate Benjamin Britten’s centenary year, and I hope that the young singers, musicians and technical students will spread their enthusiasm for this fantastic art-form to their friends and families.”

It has been WNO’s commitment to nurture, develop and support young talent via WNO Youth Opera for more than 10 years. Participants are provided with invaluable practical experience to progress and become professionals in the industry while also giving an opportunity to those who have never been involved in theatre before.

-Ends-

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.

• For more information or interviews please contact Lowri Pugh-Morgan, Press Officer on 029 20635037 lowri.pugh-morgan@wno.org.uk or Daryl Jenner, Senior Press Officer on 029 20635038 or daryl.jenner@wno.org.uk 

• Photographs of Stephen Fry attached should be credited to Richard Hubert Smith.

Paul Bunyan will be performed on Friday 23 August 2013, 7.30pm and Saturday 24 August 2013, 2.30pm & 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Wales Millennium Centre box office 02920 636464 or you can book online www.wmc.org.uk. 

Paul Bunyan is supported by the Britten-Pears Foundation, David & Philippa Seligman with the Seligman Gift, The Schafer Bursary, Paul & Marie Carson, The Gibbs Charitable Trust, The N Smith Charitable Settlement, Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation, The Idlewild Trust, The Atlantic Foundation and The D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust. Also supported by the WNO Partnership.