David Pountney Artistic Director
David Pountney became internationally known through his production of Katya Kabanova at the 1972 Wexford Festival. Between 1975 and 1980, he was Director of Productions for Scottish Opera. Productions there featured a Janáček cycle in collaboration with Welsh National Opera. He directed the world première of David Blake’s Toussaint in 1977 (ENO) and went on to become ENO’s Director of Productions in 1980, directing over 20 operas. He has directed many world premières, including three by Peter Maxwell Davies for which he also wrote the libretto, and has translated operas into English from Russian, Czech, German and Italian. As a freelance director from 1992 he worked regularly in Zurich, at Vienna State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper as well as opera houses in America and Japan, and in the UK has a long-standing association with Opera North. He received a Janáček medal for his Janáček cycle in Wales and Scotland, and a Martinů medal for his productions of Julietta and Greek Passion (Opera North and Bregenz Festival). His productions have twice won an Olivier award. Recent engagements include Prince Igor, The Passenger (Houston and New York); Kommilitonen!, his third opera written in collaboration with Peter Maxwell Davies (Royal Academy of Music and US première at the Juilliard School, New York); a new Philip Glass opera, Spüren der Verirrten, for the opening of a new opera house in Linz which won the Schickaneder Prize for best opera production in 2013, and Die Zauberflöte for the lake stage in Bregenz, where he has been Intendant since 2003. Between 2011 and 2015 he was Chief Executive and Artistic Director of WNO, and since December 2015 has been WNO Artistic Director. While at WNO he has directed Berg’s Lulu, Rossini’s William Tell and Moses in Egypt. He is a CBE, a Chevalier in the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres, has the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and was awarded the Ehrenkreuz des Bundes Osterreich in 2014.
Leonora Thomson Managing Director
Leonora Thomson joined Welsh National Opera as Managing Director in December 2015. Prior to this she was Director of Audiences and Development at the Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest multi-arts centre, which is part of the City of London Corporation. She started at the Barbican in 2008 and led on the organisation’s relationship with its audiences through marketing and communications, front of house and box office, development and digital strategy; latterly she undertook a strategic planning process for the Centre.
She joined the Barbican in 2008 from the Metropolitan Police Service, where from 2007 to 2008 she was the manager of Ealing’s Extended Police Family – Community Support Officers, Volunteers, Special Constables and Cadets.
In the early 1990s she worked in international press and promotion for EMI Classics, then joined the BBC to run press and publicity for the Proms and Radio 3, going on to work as a Strategic Communications Adviser to BBC senior management on corporate issues.
From 1998 to 2006 she also served as a local councillor for the London Borough of Ealing, providing the political leadership for education and children’s social services, ending up as Deputy Leader then Leader of the Council. During that period she undertook a lot of consultancy, mentoring and training work for the Improvement & Development Agency, now part of the Local Government Association.
She has held several board positions; from 2008 to 2014 she was a board member at the Association of British Orchestra and also served on the board of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. She is currently a board member of the National Campaign for the Arts.
She grew up in North Yorkshire, where her musician and teacher parents inspired her love of opera, and studied Philosophy at Leeds University.
Tomáš Hanus Music Director
Born in 1970, Tomáš Hanus is now recognised as one of the Czech Republic’s most exciting and important conductors. Having studied with Jiri Belohlavek at the Janáček Academy of Music and Drama in Brno, he came to prominence when he won the Conductors’ International Competition in Katowice in 1999. In 2016, Tomáš became Music Director of WNO.
Tomáš has conducted new productions and revival performances at the Dresden Staatskappelle, the Danish National Opera and Teatro Real Madrid. Having assisted Jiri Belohlavek in 2003 at the Finnish National Opera with a new production of Katya Kabanová he was invited to conduct the revival in 2005 and to make his debut at the Paris Opera in 2007 with Leoš Janáček’s Věc Makropulos directed by Krzystztof Warlikovwski. Tomáš returned to Paris Opera in 2009 for the revival of this hugely successful production. Since making his debut in 2001 with the National Theatre Prague and a production of Bedřich Smetana’s Devil’s Wall he has worked regularly in the house and most recently conducted performances of Věc Makropulos directed by Christopher Alden. From 2007/2008 to 2009 Tomáš was Music Director of the National Theatre Brno, Janáček Opera House.
Tomáš has made several recordings with both the Prague Philharmonia and the State Philharmonic Orchestra Brno, and also records for Czech Radio. More recently, he has recorded the Viktor Ullmann symphonies with the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, and has collaborated with outstanding Czech soloists for Lotos Records.