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Welsh National Opera - Birmingham Summer Season

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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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Vienna Theme For Opera Season
The Welsh National Opera (WNO) returns to Birmingham for its Summer season with a glamorous theme of 'Vienna Vice'.

Wno,welsh national opera summer season Vienna vice, Birmingham hippodrome
A scene from Der Rosenkavalier


The opulence and decadence of Vienna is to be brought to life in both Johann Strauss II's opera Die Fledermaus and Richard Strauss's comedy Der Rosenkavalier. They will both be conducted by WNO's new Music Director Tomáš Hanus, who makes his debut in Birmingham with the Company.

Accompanying them is WNO's classic production of Madam Butterfly, which opens the Summer Season at Birmingham Hippodrome on June 27. It is also performed on June 29 and 30.

The Puccini tearjerker is famous for a soundtrack of irresistible music including the Humming Chorus and Un bel dě aria, Madam Butterfly tells the heartbreaking tale of Cio-Cio-San's love and loss at the hands of American naval officer, Pinkerton.

Wno,welsh national opera summer season Vienna vice, Birmingham hippodrome
Madam Butterfly returns to Birmingham Hippodrome


This Joachim Herz sepia-toned production is directed by Sarah Crisp and conducted by Andrew Greenwood, and sees Linda Richardson share the role of Cio-Cio-San with Judith Howarth. There's also Paul Charles Clarke, who starred in WNO's hugely successful Sweeney Todd, returning to the Company to sing the role of Pinkerton.

The second production of the Season, performed on June 28, is Die Fledermaus. It is a revival of John Copley's opulent, traditional and popular production that transports audiences to the Austrian capital in the early 1900's.

The opera, sung in English, is filled with rich and romantic songs by Johan Strauss, which opens at a masquerade ball where mistaken identity unfolds during the two hours and 55 minutes of the opera (including two intervals).

Wno,welsh national opera summer season Vienna vice, Birmingham hippodrome
Luxurious costumes and set are promised for Die Fledermaus


Mary Elizabeth Williams takes on the role of Rosalinde following her recent performances as Lady Macbeth in the Company's Autumn 2016 season.

Mark Stone takes the role of her errant husband Eisenstein while there's a familiar face from TV show Stella with Welsh actor Steve Speirs playing the role of the jailer, Frosch.

Wno,welsh national opera summer season Vienna vice, Birmingham hippodrome
Steve Speirs features in the opera


The final show of the Season is a new production of Der Rosenkavalier, which will take audiences on a sensuous, erotic and passionate journey to 1911 Vienna.

It is performed on July 1 with celebrated soprano Rebecca Evans starring in the iconic role of The Marschallian - a woman who is faced with her liver finding a younger model. Speaking about her character, Evans says: "Whilst delicately mourning the loss of her youth and the inconstancy of men she remains full of grace, passion and generosity - truly a character to be relished and treasured."

The production has been directed by Olivia Fuchs with designs by Niki Turner. Also joining the cast for Der Rosenkavalier are Brindley Sherratt as Baron Ochs, Lucia Cervoni as Octavian, Louise Adler as Sophie, Adrian Clarke as Faninal and Madeleine Shaw as Annina.

Running time is approximately four hours, including two intervals, while the opera is sung in German with surtitles in English.

Wno,welsh national opera summer season Vienna vice, Birmingham hippodrome
Die Fledermaus is part of the Vienna Vice season for summer


WNO Music Director Tomáš Hanus says: "Rosenkavalier and Fledermaus are pieces that introduce us to music which is a joy, a delightful touch of beauty that we are allowed to share with the audience. They can touch both the very experienced opera lovers as well as those who are new to the art form and who would like to find out what opera could mean for them. I am very much looking forward to conducting these pieces and sharing them with our audience."

WNO Artistic Director David Pountney adds: "The Vienna of the 19th century was a famously frisky and frolicsome place. It indulged itself exuberantly in shallow pleasures and deep neuroses, laughing all the way to the bankruptcy court festooned with titles and uniforms. It was also, it is worth us now recalling, the capital of a ramshackle, chaotic, dysfunctional Union of disparate countries and cultures."

Welsh National Opera Summer Season at Birmingham Hippodrome​

Tues​ 27​June​ - Madam Butterfly​ at 7.15 pm
Wed​ 28​ June​ - Die Fledermaus​ at 7.15 pm
Thurs​ 29​ June​ - Madam Butterfly​ at 7.15 pm
Fri​​ 30​ June​ - Madam Butterfly​ at 7.15 pm
Sat​​ 1 July​ - Der Rosenkavalier​ at 6pm

For tickets, visit the Birmingham Hippodrome website.
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Why? See operas set in glamorous Vienna
When: June 27 - July 1
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
Cost: From Ł16.50
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