Patron: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
Honorary President: Mathew Prichard CBE, DL
Emeritus President: The Rt Hon The Lord Davies of Llandinam DL
Welsh National Opera transforms lives through the power of opera.
We are passionate about opera and want to share this passion with as many people as possible. We do this with award-winning performances of fully-staged operas which combine a sense of adventure with the highest possible quality. We keep our performances accessible through affordable ticket prices. Beyond the theatre we connect with people through our community and education work and digital projects.
The energy which drives the Company today is rooted in its formation in the 1940s. In 1943, WNO was founded by a group of people from across South Wales including miners, teachers and doctors. They wanted to forge an opera company befitting Wales’s rich reputation as the ‘land of song’. The first rehearsals took place above a garage in Cardiff and our first performance was given in April 1946 with the double bill of Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci.
From those early days onwards WNO has attracted some of the world’s best opera singers, and indeed gave many young singers their first steps to international renown. Welsh National Opera has been led from the pit by a series of great Music Directors and has worked with many of the art form’s most influential directors; traditions which continue to this day. Tomáš Hanus is Music Director of Welsh National Opera. He joined the Company in August 2016.
Today the Company employs 230 people including artists, craftspeople, technicians and administrators based at its state of the art home, Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. At its heart sit the Company’s two full time ensembles, the 40 strong Chorus and 55 strong Orchestra.
Every year the Company performs to over 120,000 people across 10 cities throughout Wales and England. David Pountney, one of the world’s most influential opera directors, joined Welsh National Opera to lead the Company as Chief Executive and Artistic Director in 2011. Since December 2015 he has been WNO Artistic Director, when Leonora Thomson joined him as Managing Director. David’s programming centres around themed seasons which bring different but thematically linked works together. Through these themed seasons we hope to take audiences on a journey of discovery and introduce a new generation of opera lovers to this great art form along the way.