New production of The Makropulos Affair in WNO autumn 2022 season

August 6, 2022 by

Welsh National Opera’s Autumn Season will open with a new production of The Makropulos Affair; directed by Olivia Fuchs and conducted by WNO’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus. It will tour to the company’s UK venues and also to the Czech Republic, as part of Festival Janáček Brno 2022 celebrating Janáček and his work in November.

Part of WNO’s Janáček Series and based on a play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek, the opera tells the tale of a woman who can never die after taking an elixir of life nearly 300 years ago. Its enigmatic central character, Emilia Marty will be performed by Angeles Blancas Gulin who makes her company debut.

Annabel Arden’s production of Puccini’s La bohème returns with Caroline Chaney directing with a fresh approach. Conducted by Pietro Rizzo in his WNO debut, the double cast will feature Rodion Pogossov and Germán Enrique Alcántara also making their debuts with the Company as Marcello, alongside Luis Gomes and Jung Soo Yun as Rodolfo, Elin Pritchard and Anush Hovhannisyan as Mimì, Benson Wilson and Mark Nathan as Schaunard, and Aoife Miskelly and Haegee Lee as Musetta.

The Autumn Season will also see the return of the  new opera, Migrations following its  world premiere in Cardiff in June 2022. Writers and new librettists to opera, Shreya Sen-Handley, Edson Burton and Miles Chambers, Eric Ngalle Charles, and Sarah Woods, have joined Sir David Pountney, (who also directs the production) to create the libretto of six powerful stories of migration with some of the narratives drawn from people’s real-life experiences and landmark moments in history. Composer Will Todd’s extraordinary music intertwines the stories into an opera featuring music, dance and storytelling on an epic scale.

The cast of 100 performers includes Tom Randle, Meeta Raval, David Shipley amongst other artists, along with the Bristol-based Renewal Gospel Choir Community Chorus, a Bollywood ensemble and a children’s chorus including members of Welsh National Opera’s Youth Opera Company. Matthew Kofi Waldren conducts.

On 9 October on the Wales Millennium Centre stage, WNO’s award-winning Youth Opera will give two performances of a new production of Shostakovich’s light-hearted musical satire, Cheryomushki, named Cherry Town, Moscow. Following the  2019’s Don Pasquale, Daisy Evans will return to WNO to direct. She will be joined by top industry professionals, including conductor Alice Farnham and vocal specialist Mary King, leading the young singers in a fully professional experience whilst offering audiences exceptional entertainment by emerging talent. Many of the young company are on their journey to entering the profession from conservatoires, including some from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

WNO Orchestra will be taking part in the Cardiff Classical Concert series at St David’s Hall with concerts in November and January alongside performances at the prestigious Festival Janáček Brno 2022. Both concerts feature Czech music and are conducted by WNO Music Director Tomas Hanus, mezzo-soprano Jana Kurucova will also perform in the November concert. The Janáček festival celebrates composer Leoṧ Janáček and the places where he worked and lived for more than 50 years. As well as performing The Makropulos Affair, WNO Orchestra will also present an orchestral programme of works by Wagner, Britten, Dvořák and Janáček under the baton of Tomáš Hanus, featuring baritone Adam Plachetka. WNO Chorus and Orchestra will also be performing Messiah in St David’s Hall in December.

Also planned for WNO’s Autumn Season is WNO’s Programmes and Engagement activity curated to engage and positively impact lives of people in the community. The Company’s Hub areas for engagement work enable WNO to make culture an everyday experience for people in communities across the UK – in South and North Wales, Birmingham & West Midlands. The programme aims to create meaningful routes into opera and classical music for people in the community, and engage new and younger audiences across the regions.

Highlights include The Shoemaker, a compelling new commission created by WNO in partnership with Oasis, Cardiff. A powerful account of resilience and endurance with timeless relevance, the production tells the story of Isabella, a shoemaker that creates and repairs shoes for people in support of their journeys and their struggle for a better life. The story will be told by an ensemble of writers and musicians with a fusion of Latin American, Persian, and Western classical music. Performances will take place at The Weston Studio at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 21 & 22 October.

In October 2019 Cradle Choir, a fun singing group for those living with dementia was launched in Milford Haven after a successful pilot in Swansea. Cradle Choir is also a key part of the broader intergenerational Cradle project which brings together primary school children and adults living with dementia. After two successful years in Milford Haven WNO have been able to expand to a new location and will launch new Cradle Choir pilot sessions with partners in Llandeilo in October.

Play Opera LIVE, WNO’s show for families, returns to Cardiff and on tour at Theatre Royal Plymouth with a ‘roarsome’ theme. Musician and presenter Tom Redmond returns to introduce a programme of well-known classics as well as John Williams’ theme from Jurassic Park. Tom also narrates and brings to life the music from Steve Pickett’s Dinosaur Rumpus, based on Tony Mitton’s children’s book, Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus. There will be a host of pre-show workshops and foyer activities which showcase all aspects of an opera company from wigs and make-up to props and costume.

WNO’s General Director Aidan Lang said, “Opera as an art form cannot stand still, and part of WNO’s mission is to broaden the range of experiences that it offers its audiences. This is what underpins the programming of WNO’s Autumn Season. After its successful opening in the Summer, I am looking forward to seeing Migrations on tour, and am sure our audiences will be as moved as they were at its world premiere in June. If that opera is epic in its scale, its sister piece, The Shoemaker, deals with similar themes, but in a more intimate manner and setting.

“The joyful energy that is always unleashed by the members of the WNO Youth Opera will be abundant in the performances of Cherry Town, Moscow. A new production of The Makropulos Affair was long overdue, and WNO is fortunate to have in Tomáš Hanus, our Music Director, a conductor who lives and breathes Janáček’s music. WNO believe that opera is an art form for everyone, and with Puccini’s enduring masterpiece La bohème completing the line-up, it is our hope that the Autumn Season delivers to that notion.”

WNO’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus said, “The Makropulos Affair by Leos Janáček is a piece that has marked by life and has been huge part of my international career. I have conducted this piece at Opera Bastille in Paris, the Bavarian State Opera Munich and at my debut with National Theatre in Prague. I cannot wait to do it with the WNO Orchestra and Chorus, who are renowned for their brilliant Janáček performances. I am especially excited to be welcoming the Company to my hometown of Brno to perform this opera at the Janáček Festival in November. This new production of Olivia Fuchs is a highly exciting project that I hope will be an important one in the WNO history.”


Leave a Reply