Welsh National Opera returns to Bristol Hippodrome for 2017Posted on: 14 Sep 2017
The newly spruced-up Bristol Hippodrome welcomes the return of the Welsh National Opera this November. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, WNO have chosen two Russian-themed operas for this season. From 15th to 18th November, the company visit Bristol with their productions of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Janácek’s From the House of the Dead, based on the book by Dostoevsky to the city. In addition, there are two delightful performances of Johan Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.
First up is Eugene Onegin which evokes the 19th century elegance of St Petersburg as well as bucolic countryside. The story focuses on the eponymous Eugene as he rejects the advances of Tatyana, a young girl from the country. As we follow him, he comes to feel the keen sting of rejection, and realises that he has been too hasty. Tchaikovsky’s evocative and romantic score reflects the high society of the time and has earned Eugene Onegin its reputation as one of the greatest Russian operas.
In contrast to the beautiful settings of Eugene Onegin, From the House of the Dead is set in a Siberian prison. The prisoners tell the story of how they came to be imprisoned, and expressing the oppression and injustice that they experience from day to day. The prisoners’ anguish is lifted somewhat as they nurse an eagle back to health.
This production is a revival of WNO’s 1982 version, and this will be the first time that the opera will be performed in a version that is as close as possible to what Janácek intended as the opera was unfinished at the time of Janácek’s death,
Speaking about the ‘Russian Revolution’ season, Tomáš Hanus said, “WNO’s ‘Russian Revolution’ season reflects the soul of Russian people, culture and thinking, as well as the history. It is very important for us at this point in history to be touched by this subject, as it is sending a very specific but universal message. The extraordinary beauty and immense power of the music of great Masters like Tchaikovsky and Janá?ek puts us right at the heart of this Russian phenomenon and brings it alive in front of our eyes.
“I really cannot wait to be working on From the House of the Dead with our fantastic orchestra, chorus and all the soloists, and to share this with our audience. I am sure that together we will all experience an exceptional and very emotional season that will deeply enrich our lives.”
WNO Artistic Director David Pountney added, “After the intellectual and artistic euphoria that led to an explosion of creativity immediately post the revolution, the brutal realities of Lenin’s and Stalin’s regimes meant that putting pen to paper became an increasingly dangerous act. The result is that though there was an enormous amount of musical activity in Soviet Russia, there are no significant operas about the revolution itself. Our approach has been to present operas that in very different ways illustrate the enduring character of Russians and Russian society.
“The most endearing is Russia the romantic, as illustrated by Eugene Onegin, an unbearably touching story in which Pushkin’s Mozartian sense of irony is overlaid by Tchaikovsky’s unrestrained passion. In stark contrast, Janácek’s setting of Dostoevsky’s autobiographical account of his experiences in a Siberian prison remind us that violence and the suppression of freedom have remained one of the essential levers of Russian government.”
As well as the two ‘Russian Revolution’ operas, there also be two performances of Die Fledermaus, Audiences will be transported to early 1900s Vienna in a production that revels in the humour and frivolity of the story. Audiences can expect opulence, lavish detail and a rich and romantic score. This production will be sung in English with translation by David Pountney and dialogue by John Copley.
Tickets for all Bristol Hippodrome shows are available online here.