WNO's 2014 | 2015 press release

24 March 2014

Themed Seasons Continue for Welsh National Opera’s 2014-2015 Programme

•    Liberty or Death!, Spellbound, and A Terrible Innocence to theme WNO’s mainscale programme in 2014-2015
•    Eight productions for 2014-2015, of which five are new productions
•    Continuation of Bel Canto series, British Firsts programme and Royal Opera House residency

Welsh National Opera’s programme for 2014-2015 continues Artistic Director and Chief Executive David Pountney’s inspired approach to themed seasons.  The programme sees the Company exploring themes as varied and as current as national liberation, magic and enchantment, and the power of destructive innocence.

WNO’s Autumn 2014 season, which comes under the theme of Liberty or Death!, continues the Company’s Bel Canto series with new productions of Rossini’s William Tell and Moses in Egypt which will be staged within the same scenic environment.  Directed by David Pountney, both operas also see a return to WNO for internationally acclaimed conductor Carlo Rizzi.

An epic political and romantic work, and Rossini’s last opera, William Tell is the story of the Swiss struggle for independence against the repression of Austria; a narrative which spans ages and shares themes and ideas with many worldwide battles for national liberation.   The role of William Tell will be sung by David Kempster.

A grand biblical epic composed in Naples, Moses in Egypt was one of Rossini’s early operas.   Mezzo Soprano and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Christine Rice will take the role of Amaltea in Moses in Egypt, returning to WNO following her performances as Rosina in The Barber of Seville in Autumn 2011.

British tenor Barry Banks whose esteemed career has seen him become synonymous with Rossini’s bel canto repertoire will perform with WNO in both Rossini operas, singing the role of Arnold in William Tell and Aronne in Moses in Egypt.

Completing the Autumn season will be a revival of Bizet’s Carmen, which tells the story of a free spirit who would rather die than surrender her liberty.  In one of his first roles as WNO Associate Artist for 2014-2015, Aidan Smith will sing the role of Zuniga.  Carmen will be conducted by Erik Nielsen with Alessandra Volpe in the title role and Peter Wedd and Gwyn Hughes-Jones sharing the role of Don Jose. 

Spellbound is the theme for Spring 2015, which will highlight the natural affinity between music and magic with revivals of the enchanting operas Hansel & Gretel and The Magic Flute.  Both operas transport the audience into a world of magic, make-believe and delight, but are also ultimately about the power of rationalism over magic.
Both Hansel & Gretel and The Magic Flute will be conducted by WNO Music Director, Lothar Koenigs.

Completing the Spring 2015 Season will be a new production, Chorus!  Under the creative vision and direction of David Pountney, Chorus! will celebrate one of WNO’s greatest assets, the Chorus, as well as the choral tradition.  Chorus! will feature soprano Lesley Garrett CBE performing alongside WNO Chorus, and will be an enchanting, witty and spectacular journey through the rich repertoire of operatic choral music.

Two new productions lead the Summer 2015 Season under the theme of A Terrible Innocence.  WNO will give the British premiere of Richard Ayres’ Peter Pan alongside a new production of Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande.  Both new productions explore the ways in which apparent innocence can mask destructive and dangerous forces.

Pelléas et Mélisande will bring together the creative team that worked on the much-celebrated WNO production of Berg’s Lulu in 2013, and David Pountney draws a specific link between Lulu and Pelléas et Mélisande by setting it within a developed version of the Lulu design.  The new production will be conducted by WNO Music Director Lothar Koenigs with set design by Johan Engels and costume design by Marie-Jeanne Lecca.

As part of WNO’s British Firsts series, and in his first collaboration with WNO, Keith Warner will direct Peter Pan which is a co-production with the Komische Oper Berlin (KOB).  This new production sees the return of Marie Arnet to WNO in the role of Wendy following her critically-acclaimed performance in Lulu with WNO in 2013, with Iestyn Morris taking the role of Peter.  As well as performances in Cardiff and Birmingham, Peter Pan will be performed at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in Summer 2015 as part of WNO’s 3-year residency there. 

Summer 2015 will also include further performances of Mozart’s much-loved The Magic Flute.

WNO Chief Executive and Artistic Director David Pountney says:
“This year of work sees us continuing to offer a balanced repertoire of the new and unfamiliar together with much loved titles, bound together with thematic ideas which we hope will encourage audiences to explore the links between them. Each work is a gem on its own, but there is a richness of association to be discovered by considering them in a different context. We hope they offer a year of deeply satisfying artistic and creative experience.”

WNO Music Director Lothar Koenigs has devised a programme of music for WNO Orchestra which will offer a journey through the themed seasons with concerts at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.
Lothar Koenigs says:
“I am delighted to be conducting an exciting concert series for WNO Orchestra with a programme that features Beethoven’s Symphony No.5 and Piano Concerto no.4 in G, Zimmermann’s “Nobody Knows the Trouble I See” Trumpet Concerto and The Miraculous Mandarin by Béla Bartók, all perfectly complementing the themed seasons.”

More information about WNO’s 14/15 Season is available at 


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.

•    William Tell is a co-production with Grand Théâtre de Genève and Teatr Wielki, Warsaw and is supported by David Speller, the WNO Bel Canto Syndicate and WNO Friends

•    Moses in Egypt is supported by the WNO Bel Canto Syndicate

•    Pelléas et Mélisande is supported by WNO Partners

•    Peter Pan is a co-production with Komische Oper, Berlin and is supported in part by the Getty Family as part of British Firsts

•    St David’s Hall International Concert Series is supported by WNO Orchestra Circle

•    WNO production images are available for download at

•    For more information, photos or interviews please contact Rachel Bowyer, Press and Public Affairs Manager on 029 2063 5038 or or Lowri Pugh-Morgan, Press Officer on 029 2063 5037 or