Mid Wales Opera are back on the road this season with two Shakespearean operas. In March next year the company presents its first ever production of Verdi’s great masterpiece Macbeth. Before that, this autumn, the company presents Berlioz’s effervescent Beatrice and Benedict, based on Shakespeare’s comedy Much ado about nothing.
However, the tour comes against the background of the removal of Arts Council Wales funding.
MWO’s future is more in doubt than ever before, with the recent complete withdrawal of ACW funding. The company has said that without this essential public funding, MWO touring productions cannot be undertaken.
“This season has been many years in the making. We were thinking about Shakespeare well before the pandemic, and it’s just brilliant to finally get to explore these wonderful dramas and bring them to life for audiences across Wales and the borders through, arguably, the two great Shakespearean composers of all time – Berlioz and Verdi.
“The rehearsal process has been a total pleasure. We have Shakespeare’s joyous words spoken as dialogue, scattered between some of the most beautiful music imaginable.
“Our multi-faceted cast, none of whom were familiar with the opera beforehand, have worked, blended, developed and grown into the fabric of the piece with total commitment. Audiences are in for an absolute treat! At under two hours, with vivid texts, fantastic music, and sung in English for all our audiences to understand and enjoy, what’s not to love?!?
“Whether you’ve never seen an opera before, or whether you’re a seasoned pro, come and see us” says Lyness; “An evening of shared live theatre, with great drama and great music, is such a meaningful and memorable experience. We need audiences more than ever before, and we hope that audiences need us!”
Beatrice and Benedict, Berlioz’s final opera, has at its core a simple plot telling of the reluctance of the two title characters to admit their love for each other. Everything ends happily, of course, but not without plenty of deviousness and mischief-making along the way. Mid Wales Opera have assembled a scintillating cast which includes Welsh tenor and MWO regular Huw Ynyr as Benedict and Scottish soprano Monica McGhee as Beatrice. The company have also added a Spanish twist to proceedings with the fabulous Lorena Paz Nieto singing the role of Hero.
Verdi’s magnificent opera Macbeth is as relevant today as it was in the nineteenth century, with its psychologically thrilling presentation of tyranny and the destruction it wreaks, and the powerful and moving illustration of the plight of refugees in the opera’s final scene. MWO have carefully chosen this work to engage and resonate with modern audiences and have selected Jeremy Sams’ compelling English translation to get the messaging of the piece across. Casting has begun, with the Canadian baritone Jean-Kristof Bouton in the title role and the brilliant Welsh soprano Mari Wyn Williams in the role of the infamous Lady Macbeth.
MWO’s SmallStages tour of Beatrice and Benedict opens at the SpArC Theatre, Bishop’s Castle on 13 October before touring to Gregynog Hall and then on to Prestiegne, Abergavenny, Aberdovey, Mold, Criccieth, Builth Wells, Fishguard, Aberdare, Barmouth, Holyhead and Ludlow. Macbeth opens at Theatr Hafren in Newtown on 2 March and tours to Aberystwyth, Pontio, Wrexham, Newport, Hereford, Llanelli, Milford Haven and Brecon.
The following performances will include British Sign Language interpretation by Julie Doyle: Beatrice and Benedict at St Elvans, Aberdare on 2 November 2023 and Macbeth in Newport on 14 March 2024.
For full details of MWO’s Shakespeare season please visit www.midwalesopera.co.uk