Saturday 15th September 2018, Opera season begins with ‘War and Peace’ from Prokofiev, at the magnificent Millennium Centre here in Cardiff Bay. Another to add to my collection of new productions in the theatre world. I’m quite looking forward to watching this, while all the while wondering how you would take an epic story to an Operatic stage performance and make it work.The cast for this opening performance has the beautiful voice of Lauren Michelle in the lead role of Natasha, with Mark LeBrocq as Pierre and Jonathan McGovern as Andrei to name but a few. As usual the singing from all the cast is excellent and really reverberates around this incredible theatre. A huge cast for this production with a massive Chorus really adding extra impetus for the bigger crowded scenes on stage, just fantastic to listen to.
I was a little shocked at how good the music to this opera actually was, having not expecting it to be, but honestly I was very impressed, it had everything from heavy full orchestra music to stunning beautiful melodies all in one movement, played brilliantly by the Welsh National Opera Orchestra conducted by Tomas Hanus.
An opera I will happily see again, and most probably will in the next few weeks, during its run in its home theatre in Cardiff, before moving on tour.
Saturday 24th February 2018, another glorious but cold weekend in prospect, so after my walk around Cardiff Bay for a few hours, I’m back at the Millenium Centre for the final show of this seasons Opera’s before the WNO start their tour around various theatres in the UK. Today’s final offering is ‘Don Giovanni’, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
For today’s show we have a few new faces, well new to me. Emily Birsan plays Anna with Gavan Ring as Don Giovanni, Katie Bray as Zerlina, all making their debuts with WNO. Also the return of Elizabeth Watts to the scene as Elvira, with her stunning voice ringing out over this impressive auditorium, and David Stout as Laporello. Although I have to say that all the principles are just tremendous, with such fabulous voices.
When you add in the magnificence of the WNO Orchestra and the incredible set for the show, then you have a brilliant end of season extravaganza. This season has been immense, with three stunning Opera’s, culminating in such a wonderful experience that will last for a lifetime, a real pleasure to have had the chance to watch such brilliant productions.
Wednesday 21st February 2018 and an unexpected bonus tonight, with a chance to watch another performance of Tosca from the Welsh National Opera company, at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay.
Another surprise tonight was a cast change from my last visit to this Opera with the brilliant Mary Elizabeth Williams playing Tosca, sharing the role with the equally brilliant Claire Rutter. Having only seen Mary last weekend in another opera, (La Forza Del Destino). Her voice is just as perfect as ever with one aria in act two bringing tears of joy, as she sang through it. Along with Hector Sandoval as Cavaradossi and Mark S Doss as Scarpia, the three of them made this Opera so beautiful to listen to.
So again today, I’ve managed to see two fabulous shows in two different cities, as I’ve achieved on the past three Wednesday’s off work. What a superb way of spending my weekday off work, couldn’t hope for much more than that.
Saturday 17th February 2018, and after a few torrid days at work, it’s back to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for another performance of the WNO production of Verdi’s ‘La Forza Del Destino’. After a really long walk around the Bay today, I’m back to my brilliant best again. To be honest it was such a beautiful day today you couldn’t help being perky and full of life. There is no better place to walk around than the Bay Area in the Sun, listening to great music on the way. Extremely emotional walks today.
Anyway enough of me let’s talk about this fabulous Opera on show today. This gives me one more chance to watch the brilliant Mary Elizabeth Williams as Leonora along with two fabulous Male voices in Gwyn Hughes Jones and Luis Cansino. With some beautiful music throughout this opera, played superbly by the WNO Orchestra under the baton of conductor Carlo Rizzi, this gives the artists on show the chance to really impress with their amazing voices.
Another thing that impressed me about the WNO is how good the sets and lighting has been for a lot of their recent productions, using this huge stage to its maximum on many occasions.
Once again another fabulous production comes to an end, stunning singing, as usual, just so beautiful to listen to, so glad I had the opportunity to watch this twice in its run in Cardiff.
Sunday 11th February 2018, I’m back in Cardiff Bay for a visit to the Millenium Centre for my second Opera of the weekend, this time its ‘Tosca’ from the Welsh National Opera company. This one I have seen before, back in 2013, and just happens to be the first ever opera I visited from the WNO.
The cast for this day’s Opera includes Claire Rutter in the lead role, Hector Sandoval as Cavaradossi along with Mark S Doss as Scarpia. Once again the Opera springs into life with some wonderful singing from all, with the chorus at the end of act one really adding to the emotion of the piece. Beautiful music and even more memorable singing from the main leads really make this opera such an amazing production that it is.
What makes it so special for me is the WNO themselves, everything I’ve seen them do over the past few years has been superb, with a Chorus and Orchestra the envy of loads of operatic companies, and its choice of leads throughout the years, has really made me want to see more and more of the work this company does.
One final thing to mention today was the costumes and the set for this opera, very impressive indeed. Thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and the Opera.
Saturday 10th February 2018, it’s now been four weeks since my last visit to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, I’m finally back here for another show, this time an Opera from the wonderful Welsh National Opera company, with its take on Verdi’s ‘La Forza Del Destino’. This is another new Opera for me to watch and brings my total of new shows to 154, and counting.Tonight’s cast includes the magnificent voice of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Leonora, her singing is just unbelievable, with amazing voice control throughout the performance, many times I just closed my eyes and listened to her incredible voice, especially with the chorus joining her, so fabulous to hear, sheer perfection.
Gwyn Hughes Jones and Luis Cansino were also quite spectacular with vocals to die for, amazing talent from the three main leads, who just made the whole evening such a special event for me.
I must also say a huge round of applause for the other main cast players, who were also outstanding, with even more superb voices adding strength to the whole show. Again the chorus of the WNO were simply stunning, a mass of unbelievable voices ringing out among the whole auditorium.
And what can you say about the WNO Orchestra, playing this wonderful music to absolute perfection. So beautiful to listen to and combined with the exceptional voices on show, this opera really was incredible. Can’t wait for my next visit after this.
Saturday 14th October 2017, and after my superb break in Belfast, visiting Amy and Gareth, I’m back in Cardiff Bay, at the Millenium Centre,
for an extra performance of ‘Die Fledermaus’ from the WNO. The final opera of the season, also bringing an end to this years offerings from the company, as the tour moves on from its base in Cardiff. It’s been a fantastic year for the WNO, with some exceptional Opera productions along the way. Looking forward to next years choices already.
Having seen three brilliant productions back in the summer, it’s nice to have it back for one last time. There are some cast changes for this performance as Rosalinda is played by Judith Howarth, Prince Orlofsky by Anna Harvey, and Colonel Frank played by James Cleverton.
Yet again another masterful performance from the WNO. The singing, the chorus, the orchestra coupled with the comic talents of Steve Speirs, made this a fabulous nights entertainment. Look forward to many more next year.
Saturday 30th September 2017, and for my evening show I’ve rushed back to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my second performance of ‘Khovanshchina’ from the WNO. Having seen this beautiful opera last weekend for the first time, I am so looking forward to watching this fabulous creation for a second time. I can’t reiterate just how good the music, singing and overall feel of the show is. Such a joy to be able to watch it again.
Today I’d like to concentrate most of this blog on the role of the WNO Chorus, who for me, are one of the best I’ve ever heard. With this production they sing more then ever, and from sitting in this superb auditorium is a chance to listen to sheer perfection. To describe these singers in action is like putting two of the best male and female choirs together, rehearsing for months at a time, then letting them loose to sing together on stage. These guys do this day in day out, with only just over twenty to forty members on stage at any one time, just incredible to listen to. The compactness of the combined voices is unbelievable, you have to be there to fully enjoy the most beautiful singing you will ever hear, the harmonies they produce as a team is quite breathtaking. I was so impressed with everything I’ve heard from this Chorus over the years, they just seem to get better and better.
The other factor to a beautiful opera is of course the music. With the WNO Orchestra, this time under the baton of ‘Tomas Hanus’, playing their hearts out for around three and a half hours, to bring this wonderful music to life, as only they can do. Some of the intricate manoeuvring of various instruments in each piece is quite superb, which in this auditorium, is quite easy to listen to and appreciate , in the way it was written. I would describe the orchestra as one of the best I’ve ever heard, they are so consistent in every opera I’ve seen, they actually make it look so easy.
As I mentioned last week it’s not only the Chorus and orchestra who are fabulous, the entire cast play their part to perfection also. An amazing opera, and an excellent choice from the management at the WNO.
Friday 29th September 2017, a well earned day off from work, so spending it in Cardiff Bay, walking around this picturesque part of the Welsh Capital, before getting myself ready for tonight’s Opera at the Millenium Centre, with a viewing of ‘Eugene Onegin’ by Tchaikovsky. Another Opera I have not seen, so not sure what to expect. Although if it’s as good as last weeks ‘Khovanshchina’, then I’m in for another treat tonight.
Moving onto the opera, which tonight, the magnificent WNO Orchestra is conducted by Ainars Rubikis. Yet again fabulous music played to perfection. So beautiful, so relaxing to listen to, with some amazing voices from this talented cast, along with the WNO chorus give no their all yet again.
I have to impress on the vocal talent of Natalya Romaniw as Tatyana, what a superb voice she has, along with Claudia Huckle, Camilla Roberts, Jason Bridges and Nicholas Lester as Onegin. Although I have to point out that all of the cast are just superb, with stunning voices to match. It’s a pleasure to listen to such a beautiful Opera yet again, perfect in all its grandeur.
A quick mention to the wardrobe department of the WNO, for such wonderful costumes during this performance. Superb, as usual the WNO have done a tremendous job in putting on another fabulous opera.
After last weekend of no show to go to, its Saturday 23rd September 2017, and the start of the WNO autumn season of Operas. Starting with ‘Khovanshchina’ from Musorgsky. Yet another opera I’ve never seen, and if I’m honest with myself, never even heard of. But as usual, the WNO do their best to stimulate their audiences, with different shows, instead of ‘run of the mill’ operas every other company does, which usually work, supplying the viewer with quality opera not often seen. I must admit to watching a few of these operas I’ve never heard of, and been totally engrossed in the whole adventure, loving everything the WNO have done over the last four years.
This performance was no exception, the music was absolutely fantastic, played brilliantly, yet again by this magnificent orchestra, conducted by Tomas Hanus. The principal leads were also outstanding, powerful voices throughout the performance, really hitting the mark. What can I say about the WNO Chorus, tonight they were out of this world, the best I’ve heard, their combined voices were phenomenal, a total joy to listen to. A beautiful opera, so well done.
A shorter blog today, but I can sum ‘Khovanshchina’ up in one huge sentence. ‘One of the best Operas I have ever seen’. Can’t wait to see it again, if I get the chance.