6 September 2017
This September we will be celebrating the 70th birthday of Welsh National Opera’s Artistic Director David Pountney. David joined WNO in 2011 and has directed 10 productions for WNO including The Fall of the House of Usher, The Cunning Little Vixen, William Tell, Figaro Gets a Divorce and In Parenthesis.
David’s career has found him directing at some of the world’s leading opera houses, and he has received Janáček and Martinů medals, and two Olivier awards. He is a CBE, and a Chevalier in the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and was awarded the Ehrenkreuz des Bundes Osterreich and the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
David’s first major breakthrough came in 1972 with his production of Káťa Kabanová for the Wexford Festival. He then went on to join Scottish Opera as their Director of Productions, followed by English National Opera before going freelance which allowed him to work in opera houses all over the world.
To celebrate David’s 70th Birthday, we have taken a look at some other important figures in the ‘Arts’ world who have celebrated their 70th birthday this year as well.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The Edinburgh Fringe festival has gone from strength to strength over the last 70 years. It began when eight uninvited theatre companies came together to perform at Edinburgh International Festival. All eight companies were turned away and refused entry but wanted to perform anyway. With the main festival using all of the city’s major venues, the eight companies took over smaller, alternative venues in the city, and from here on The Fringe was born. Today it hosts over 3000 performances, in up to 300 venues, with an estimated 2.5 million tickets sold. We think you will agree that this is quite a remarkable movement since 1947.
The Tony Awards
In April this year another Arts favourite of ours, The Tony Awards, celebrated 70. The awards ceremony recognises the excellence of Broadway theatre, and the first award ceremony was held on 6 April 1947 in New York with prizes consisting of a scroll, a cigarette lighter and articles of jewellery.
The most Tony’s ever received by a single production was the 2016 production of Hamilton which received 16 nominations, followed closely by The Producers in 2001 and Billy Elliott in 2009.
On average the Tony’s receive between six and eight million views for each ceremony and although they are an American celebration, the 70th Tony awards was presented by British comedian James Corden.
Throughout his career Elton John has had more than 50 top 40 hits including his 1997 version of ‘Candle in the Wind’ which he dedicated to Princess Diana after her death. This single is still the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts and has sold over 33 million copies worldwide.
Elton has achieved great success in both the commercial chart success and with musical theatre both in the West End and Broadway composing music for The Lion King and Billy Elliot. At one point during his career, Elton was responsible for 3% of records sold on the planet – quite an achievement you might say.
So it’s quite a remarkable year. Join in our celebrations by sending David Pountney a birthday message on Twitter using #DavidPountney70