Welsh National Opera’s Autumn Shakespeare Season at MayFlower Theatre coming in November 2016

Three productions inspired by William Shakespeare make up Welsh National Opera’s Autumn season, which will comprise of a British premiere and two new productions.  The season is part of the official Shakespeare 400 celebrations to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the great bard’s death whilst continuing WNO Artistic Director David Pountney’s creative approach to themed seasons. This WNO season will be visiting Mayflower Theatre in November 2016.

The Shakespeare 400 season will include the British premiere of André Tchaikowsky’s The Merchant of Venice alongside new productions of Verdi’s Macbeth and Cole Porter’s classic musical Kiss Me, Kate.

Keith Warner returns to WNO following Peter Pan in 2015 to direct another British premiere, The Merchant of Venice, which was first performed at the Bregenz Festival in 2013. Composed by André Tchaikowsky, a Polish-Jewish composer and pianist who died very shortly after creating this opera, The Merchant of Venice is a powerful and serious attack on prejudice with themes closely felt by Tchaikowsky himself who was smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto with false identity papers and survived the Holocaust in hiding with his grandmother.

American baritone Lester Lynch makes his debut with WNO to sing the role of Shylock.  He is joined by soprano Lauren Michelle who makes her UK debut with WNO in the role of Jessica, following her appearance at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in 2015 where she was a prize winner representing the USA.  The Duke of Venice will be sung by Miklós Sebestyén who performed with WNO in Moses in Egypt during the 2014/15 season.  The Merchant of Venice will be conducted by Lionel Friend.

Macbeth. Northern Ireland Opera Cast 2014.

Macbeth. Northern Ireland Opera Cast 2014. © Patrick Redmon

Macbeth in a co-production with Northern Ireland Opera (NIO) is a new production that places Verdi’s classic opera in a contemporary setting, allowing for a new exploration of the tale of state violence, corruption and superstition.

Macbeth will be directed by NIO Artistic Director Oliver Mears and conducted by Andriy Yurkevych.  Spanish baritone Luis Cansino sings the title role in his debut performance with WNO.   Mary Elizabeth Williams returns to WNO following her highly-acclaimed performances with the Company in Nabucco and Tosca to sing the role of Lady Macbeth in Cardiff and Bristol, with Miriam Murphy singing Lady Macbeth for the remainder of the tour.

The season is completed with Cole Porter’s classic musical Kiss Me, Kate in a co-production with Opera North which sits perfectly within the operatic repertoire and pays homage to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.  Jam-packed with hit tunes including ‘Too Darn Hot’, ‘Another Op’nin’ Another Show’, and ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’, this new production will feature operatic and West End singers alongside the renowned WNO Chorus and Orchestra.

With show-stopping numbers and a story full of wit, humour and farce, Kiss Me, Kate is sure to leave audiences with a smile.  The cast is led by Jeni Bern as Lilli Vanessi/Katharine and Quirijn de Lang as her ex-husband Fred Graham/Petruchio, both of whom starred in this production in 2015 at Opera North. The story is set around their tempestuous relationship as they prepare to stage a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew.

Jo Davies will direct Kiss Me, Kate having directed the production at Opera North, and James Holmes returns to WNO to conduct following his performances in Autumn 2015 with Sweeney Todd.  Featuring spectacular costumes, dazzling choreography and hit after hit, the show will be a feast for the eyes and the ears.

WNO Artistic Director David Pountney says: “For our autumn season we join in the nationwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Music is everywhere in Shakespeare, from the fools and clowns whose songs pepper his works, to the sublime musicality of his use of language. It is hardly surprising that he has inspired so much music, and in this wonderfully diverse season you can enjoy him as tragedian, psychologist and witty entertainer.”

Professor Gordon McMullan, Director, London Shakespeare Centre and Academic Director of Shakespeare400 says: “It’s a real privilege to be able to include WNO within Shakespeare400. When the team at King’s College London were putting together the Shakespeare400 initiative, we were keen to ensure that all art forms had equal representation so as to reflect the extraordinary impact of Shakespeare’s’ life and works right across the creative range. Theatre is of course the mainstay of any Shakespeare enthusiast, but the influence of Shakespeare goes far beyond this, reaching into every area of arts and culture, both in the UK and across the world, and opera offers an astonishingly rich array of creative reimaginings of Shakespeare’s plays. I very much look forward to the productions from WNO and am especially excited about the British premiere of André Tchaikovsky’s, The Merchant of Venice.”

More information on WNO’s Autumn 2016 season is available at wno.org.uk

Tickets for WNO’s Merchant of Venice (1 November 2016), Macbeth (2 November 2016) and Kiss Me, Kate (3-5 November 2016) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833