Exploitation of women today provokes brand new opera by Welsh National Opera. | Welsh National Opera

Exploitation of women today provokes brand new opera by Welsh National Opera.

14 January 2014

Welsh National Opera is working with award-winning composer Errollyn Wallen to create Anon, a brand new opera based on the theme of Fallen Women, looking at the exploitation of women today across different cultures. The opera will receive its premiere at Llanover Hall Arts Centre in Cardiff on Friday 14 March 2014.

As part of the creative process for the opera’s libretto and music, composer and librettist Errollyn Wallen and Director Wils Wilson led workshops with young women in Birmingham from schools and universities to get their views and hear their experiences about the challenges they have faced as young women today. In exploring issues including sex and exploitation, they also undertook interviews with sex workers in Birmingham to hear their stories and to understand the circumstances they had found themselves in and the choices they had made along the way. Wallen took inspiration from these sessions to write Anon, to reflect the relevance of exploitation through the real life experiences of women today and to create a powerful and thought provoking work. The piece is designed to stimulate debate and thought among the audience, and to ask them what they would do if faced with the difficult situations presented by the opera.

Anon is a co production between WNO and Sampad South Asian Arts in Birmingham. Anon is part of Welsh National Opera’s youth and community programme and forms part of the Company’s Fallen Women Season in the Spring which is grown from the new artistic vision of Welsh National Opera’s Artistic Director David Pountney. Sampad is a dynamic development agency that plays a significant role regionally, nationally and beyond in promoting the appreciation and practice of South Asian arts in all its forms, via its work with youth, community, education, digital and arts organisations and professional artists. Anon is the first collaboration between the two companies.

The cast for Anon includes three sopranos and two actors who will take on the different roles highlighting the dilemmas and issues faced by women around the world. The cast includes Claire Wild, Joanna Foote and former Cardiff Singer of the World finalist Meeta Raval. They will be accompanied by Music Director and pianist Stuart Wild, percussionist James Gambold, and cellist Joseph Spooner. The piece will be followed by a Questions and Answers session where the topic of the opera will be fully explored and discussed with members of the cast and production team.

This is the first opera production for Director Wils Wilson, an award winning director and site specific theatre maker. Her most recent projects have been productions with National Theatre Wales and National Theatre Scotland.
Errollyn Wallen is a respected singer song writer of pop influenced songs and contemporary new music.  Communication is at the centre of her writing where she aims to engage the audience by speaking directly to both their hearts and minds. She composed two works, PRINCIPIA and Spirit in Motion featuring the London Symphony Orchestra for the opening ceremony of London 2012 Paralympic Games and was awarded the Ivor Novello Award for her contribution to classical music and the Fipa d'or Grand Prize for the score for the BBC drama One Night

Errollyn Wallen said “Anon is my twelfth opera so far and as in my other stage works, I endeavour to tell the stories of our time. Anon is a loose adaptation of Abbé Prévost’s novel, Manon Lescaut, but this time Manon has a voice. By incorporating contemporary themes I hope that I am also giving voice to the young women of our time who have no voice. I am delighted to be working again with Welsh National Opera and the formidable Youth and Community Department in what is a wonderful creative team.”

Rhian Hutchings, Director of Youth and Community at Welsh National Opera said “Opera stories are often set in the past, and they can give the impression that the issues they explore are not current. The story of Manon is about a girl who is exploited and destroyed, and this is a story that still urgently needs to be told. Anon is that retelling.”

Piali Ray OBE, Director of Sampad said “We are proud to be working collaboratively with WNO and young women in Birmingham to examine some of the very real issues faced by women across the world today. Anon highlights the exploitation of women from different cultures through powerful real-life stories, in a moving operatic format that promises to leave a lasting impact on audiences”.

Anon will be performed alongside WNO’s main season tour of opera’s Manon Lescaut, Boulevard Solitude and La traviata as well as WNO Extra events which will further explore the Fallen Women theme. The opera will tour to Llanover Hall Cardiff on Friday (14 March), Wickham Theatre Bristol (17 March), Guildhall Gloucester, (18 March), Newhampton Arts Centre Wolverhampton (25 March), Mac Birmingham (26 March) and at the Tête a Tête Festival in London in Summer 2014.

Tickets for Anon are £5.00. More information on the Fallen Women season is available at wno.org.uk/fallenwomen


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.

• WNO production images are available for download at http://www.wno.org.uk/press

• Anon is supported by PRS for Music Foundation and WNO Partners

• For more information, photos or interviews please contact Rachel Bowyer, Press and Public Affairs Manager  on 029 20635038 or rachel.bowyer@wno.org.uk or Lowri Pugh-Morgan, Press Officer on 029 2063 5037 or lowri.pugh-morgan@wno.org.uk.

• Since 1990, Sampad has been a leading cultural organisation helping to establish South Asian arts within mainstream culture in Birmingham and across the U.K. Through production, promotion, performances, advocacy, education and outreach activity, using the diverse artforms originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Sampad nurtures and supports British Asian arts and communities. www.sampad.org.uk


Friday 14 March Llanover Hall, Cardiff 4pm & 7pm

Monday 17 March Wickham Theatre, Bristol 4pm & 7pm
Tuesday 18 March Guildhall, Gloucester 4pm & 7pm

Tuesday 25 March Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton 4pm & 7pm

Wednesday 26 March Foyle Studio, Mac, Birmingham 4pm & 7pm

Tête a Tête Festival, London Summer 2014