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Paul Bunyan

Benjamin Britten

New Production

Britten and Auden’s satirical take on the American dream returns to the stage in a colourful new production. To mark the centenary of the birth of this great composer, we present the first performances by the acclaimed Welsh National Opera Youth Opera in the Donald Gordon Theatre. This spectacular staging includes the forces of Only Boys Aloud and Stephen Fry as the voice of Paul Bunyan.

If you have yet to experience the vibrancy and excellence of WNO Youth Opera, Paul Bunyan is the perfect opportunity. Propelled forward by the dramatic presence of the chorus, Britten’s operetta plays to the strengths of this exceptional ensemble.

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

Also supported by the WNO Partners.

"Paul Bunyan is an opera I have loved for years - Britten's music is witty and surprising. Watching the Youth Opera bring it to life is going to be really thrilling for me."

Rhian Hutchings, WNO MAX Director 

A narrator describes the gigantic mythical figure and American folk hero, Paul Bunyan.

The logging camp set up by Bunyan is manned by lumberjacks from all over Europe, including a number of quarrelsome Swedes. Hel Helson is appointed as their foreman but the camp is in need of a good cook to replace Sam and Ben, who can only make soup and beans. They recruit the cats, Moppet and Poppet, and the dog Fido, to help in the kitchen. Johnny Inkslinger, an impecunious book-keeper, wishes to maintain his independence rather than work in the camp but reluctantly agrees to stay. A cowboy, Slim, takes over in the kitchen, helped by Tiny, Bunyan’s daughter. Inkslinger warns Bunyan that Helson could be a bad influence and that some of the loggers want to become farmers.

Bunyan leads a group of men to become farmers in the fertile lands near Topsy-Turvy mountain. In his absence Helson is encouraged to usurp Bunyan’s leadership and, when he returns, picks a fight with him. Tiny and Slim declare their love for one another. Helson is beaten in the fight and makes his peace with Bunyan.

On Christmas Eve, the camp begins to break up and Inkslinger announces that Slim and Tiny will marry and move to New York to manage a Manhattan hotel. Helson will head for Washington to lead the Federal Plan of public works and Inkslinger himself is summoned by Hollywood, to be technical advisor on a new lumberjack picture.

Paul Bunyan makes his farewells and tells everyone that America is what they choose to make it.

Conductor Alice Farnham
Director Martin Constantine
Designer Cai Dyfan
Movement Director Jem Treays

Cast includes
Voice of Paul Bunyan Stephen Fry
The Lumberjack Chorus Only Boys Aloud

Performances start at 7.30pm except the matinee on 24 August at 2.30pm.

Running time approximately 2 hours 10 minutes including one interval.

Sung in English with surtitles in English and Welsh.

Tickets £15 (Under 30s £5)

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