Welsh National Opera put Mayflower under a spell

Lesley Garrett  stars in Chorus! by Welsh National Opera.
Lesley Garrett stars in Chorus! by Welsh National Opera.
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Music’s affinity with magic will be highlighted at the Southampton Mayflower from March 25-28 when Welsh National Opera promises a season of enchantment under the umbrella title of Spellbound.

The company returns with revivals of Hansel And Gretel and The Magic Flute alongside a new production under the title Chorus! – showcasing WNO’s famous ensemble of singers alongside popular soprano soloist Lesley Garrett.

The original Chorus! concept was devised by WNO in 2004 and directed by David Pountney, and he is again responsible for the new version, conducted by WNO chorus master Alexander Martin.

It includes classics such as the Humming Chorus from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Va Pensiero from Verdi’s Nabucco, and two pieces from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, A Policeman’s Lot and With Cat-like Tread.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute and the original Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel And Gretel will be conducted by WNO music director Lothar Koenigs. Both visit a world of magic and make-believe but are ultimately about the power of rationalism over magic.

The Magic Flute returns in a Magritte-inspired production featuring an angry lobster, a newspaper-reading lion and a fish that is transformed into a bicycle. The cast includes Allan Clayton as Tamino with Sophie Bevan and Anita Watson alternating as Pamina. Jacques Imbrailo sings Papageno, and Samantha Hay the Queen of the Night.

Hansel And Gretel is a dark re-telling of the well-known fairytale. Ailish Tynan will sing Gretel with Jurgita Adamonyté as Hansel and Adrian Thompson as the Witch.

David Pountney, WNO’s chief executive and artistic director, says: ‘Enchantment is a feeling that awakens the child in all of us, and The Magic Flute and Hansel And Gretel offer plenty of such moments of naive delight.

‘Both operas, too, like all good fairytales, have a serious point to make. They show a young couple learning how to read and understand the good and the bad that is in the world, emerging stronger and ready for a better future.’

WNO will be at the Mayflower from March 25-28, with Chorus! on the Wednesday, The Magic Flute on Thursday and Friday, and Hansel And Gretel on Saturday (all 7.15pm). Tickets £8 to £43 from (023) 8171 1811 or mayflower.org.uk

MIKE ALLEN