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Welsh National Opera Autumn Season in Birmingham

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Carmen Features in Liberty Or Death Themed Season
Sizzling seductiveness embraces the autumn season of Welsh National Opera's (WNO) visit to Birmingham with the passionate, tragic tale of Carmen.

It is among a trio of operas with the theme Liberty or Death from the WNO. Moses in Egypt and William Tell will also be performed during the highly anticipated season at Birmingham Hippodrome theatre, which takes place from November 19 to 22.

Carmen, Welsh National Opera, Birmingham Hippodrome
Carmen is a seductive opera with popular songs


All three operas explore both national and personal liberation, starting with Carmen, the well-loved opera by Georges Bizet. It's a traditional production with a setting in 19th century Spain. If you haven't seen it before, it is all about passion, desire and betrayal with seductive music.

Carefree gypsy Carmen is the essence of a free woman. She lures soldier Jose to abandon the army and join her liberated life with a gang of smugglers. Giving up everything for love, Jose becomes tormented by Carmen's behaviour when she later turns her attentions to a handsome bullfighter.

Carmen, welsh national opera, birmingham hippodrome
Passion and classic songs in Carmen


The songs are bound to ring a bell as they have been used in advertisements and films for decades - arias like the Toreador Song, Habanera or Seguidilla. They are some of the best known opera songs in the world for their ability to rouse the spirit as well as touch the heart.

Mezzo-soprano Alessandra Volpe takes on the sexy title role of fiesty Carmen, with Peter Wedd sings the role of hard done by Don Jose, and Simon Thorpe is Escamillo.

This production is a revival of the opera company's 1997 production and is performed at Birmingham Hippodrome over two days on Wednesday November 19 and Thursday November 20.



Moses in Egypt, the second of the trio, is a new production of the biblical epic written by Rossini early on his career.

It promises to be as vibrant in colour on stage as it is in music as the sets have been inspired by artist Marc Chagall. Meanwhile, the story looks closely at the relationship between Moses and his followers, along with his maker, during the exodus from Egypt to freedom.

Moses1
A new production of Moses in Egypt is part of WNO's autumn season in Birmingham


Hungarian bass-baritone Miklós Sebestyén will sing the role of Moses, Barry Banks plays Aronne and Mezzo Soprano and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation artist Christine Rice sings the role of Amaltea.

Moses in Egypt is performed in Birmingham for one night only on Friday November 21.

The theme of Liberty or Death is also relevant to Rossini's William Tell. The story is both centred around politics and love as it follows the struggle for Switzerland's independence from Austria.

Along with famous musical works (it includes the song made popular as the theme tune from TV show The Lone Ranger), there are also dance sequences and striking sets that have been designed by Raimund Bauer to bring this tale to life. The role of William Tell is sung by David Kempster while British tenor Barry Banks is cast as Arnold.

William Tell
Huge impressive sets feature in the production of William Tell.


William Tell is performed in Birmingham for one night only on Saturday November 22.

Speaking about the new season of operas, David Pountney, WNO's chief executive and artistic director, said: "As opera quite literally moved from the court to the city in the 19th century, so it became increasingly the arena in which the destiny of the state was evoked with all the grandeur and spectacle that opera could muster.

"In our season "Liberty or Death" the destiny of the state is what is at stake on the one hand, and in the field of personal relations, the liberty of the individual on the other.

"These are massive ideas, and the genius of Rossini and Bizet is equal to the task of giving them voice in the context of gripping and important dramas. Big ideas flowing with big emotion: this is what opera is for."

Tickets for performances during the Welsh National Opera's Liberty or Death Season cost from £16 to £49 and are available from the Birmingham Hippodrome website.

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Why? Dramatic trio of operas in Birmingham
When: November 19 - 22
Phone: Birmingham Hippodrome - 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From £16
Your Comment
The makeup/costumes for Moses in Egypt look great.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12050) 1472 days ago
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