The fascinating subject of Fallen Women is the theme for Welsh National Opera’s Spring Season of operas touring the UK this spring, grown from the new artistic vision of Welsh National Opera’s Artistic Director David Pountney. The productions will be performed at Birmingham Hippodrome from 4th – 8th March.
The two operas in the season Manon Lescaut (5th & 7th March) and La Traviata (4th & 8th March) follow the stories of two women whose different paths in life lead them astray.
With the subjects of human trafficking, exploitation and a world of glamour and capitalism, the operas cover subjects as modern and relevant today as when the operas were written. But the moral lessons of the 19th century society were such that whilst you could watch a woman misbehaving and enjoy their misdemeanors, it was under the strict condition that they had to be seen to be punished in the end by meeting their fate.
WNO is also working with award-winning composer Errollyn Wallen to create Anon a brand new opera for young adults based on the theme of Fallen Women, looking at the exploitation of women today in different cultures. Errollyn composed two works, PRINCIPIA and Spirit in Motion featuring the London Symphony Orchestra for the opening ceremony of London 2012 Paralympic Games. Errollyn is working closely with young women in colleges and university groups and speaking to sex workers in Birmingham, gathering stories and inspiration for the Anon production.
Welsh National Opera’s new production of Puccini’s breakthrough hit and first great opera Manon Lescaut tells the tale of an impressionable young woman who wanted it all and Puccini charts her rapid descent from innocent to criminal with feverish intensity. Director Mariusz Trelinski will bring this tale of obsession and self destruction to life setting this production in the contemporary world. WNO will be the first UK opera company that Mariusz Trelinski will have directed. Conductor for Manon Lescaut will be WNO’s Music Director Lothar Koenigs.
The second opera in the season is the classic revival of Verdi’s tear jerker and David McVicar’s production of La Traviata. With its elegant sets and beautiful music the opera displays an attack on hypocrisy whilst also celebrating compassion, love and self sacrifice.
“The obsession of 19th century music, literature and the visual arts with she who has strayed from the path – (the literal translation of La traviata) – may have embodied a degree of hypocrisy, but it also inspired some of the most heartfelt musical expression of human sympathy. The hypocrisy lies in permitting the audience the titillation of watching a woman behaving badly for three acts on the condition that she points up the moral by dying miserably in the fourth. The males in the audience in 19th century Paris were not above visiting such women themselves, but they still demanded that their wives and daughters were presented with an elevating moral lesson.” explains David Pountney.
As well as the operas, WNO Extra events are planned as the perfect way to prepare for the Fallen Women season. These include pre-performance talks.