Opera is expensive, posh and you won’t understand a thing – right? That’s what actor Steve Speirs thought, until Welsh National Opera showed him what it is really about!
Since joining the Welsh National Opera company, Steve, well known for his role as Alan in the Sky TV series Stella, wants to dispel the myth and encourage a new audience to experience opera.
Steve, who recently made his operatic debut in Die Fledermaus has made a short video alongside Welsh National Opera examining the preconceptions that people have about opera, including is it to long? , is it expensive and can an opera singer shatter a glass with her voice? The video may surprise you on all answers – check it out below!
If the video has convinced you to check out an example of opera, then following performances by WNO at Bristol Hippodrome with two Russian-themed operas which mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, may be a good place to start.
Performing from November 15-18, the Company will bring its productions of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, based on the book by Dostoevsky to the city. Alongside these are two performances of Johan Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, in WNO’s delightful production.
Eugine Onegin – Wed Nov 15; 7.00pm
Opening the week is Eugene Onegin. Evoking the elegance of early 19th century St Petersburg alongside simple countryside settings, Eugene Onegin follows the cynical protagonist as he rejects the romantic advances of the young country girl Tatyana, before later coming to regret his actions and feeling the sting of rejection himself. Considered one of the greatest Russian operas, Tchaikovsky’s music reflects the high society of the time and the yearnings of the heart with evocative arias, romantic choruses and luscious waltzes.
From the House of the Dead – Thu Nov 16; 7.30pm
From the House of the Dead will be a revival of WNO’s original 1982 production, this time in a new critical edition by musicologist John Tyrrell with performance suggestions by Charles Mackerras. Unfinished at the time of Janáček’s death, this will be the first time that the opera will be performed in a version that is as close as possible to what Janáček intended. Telling the story of the inmates of a Siberian prison, the opera reflects their feelings of pain, oppression and injustice as each recount why they ended up in jail. Their gloom is eased as they painstakingly nurse an eagle back to health, which comes to symbolize both Russia and the notion of freedom.
Die Fledermaus – Fri Nov 17; 7.15pm & Sat Nov 18; 4.00pm
Die Fledermaus will transport audiences to early 1900s Vienna in a production that revels in the humour and frivolity of the story, and is full of opulence, fancy frocks and lavish detail. Featuring a rich and romantic score by Johan Strauss, we join the characters at a masquerade ball as a plot around mistaken identity unfolds. Die Fledermaus will be sung in English with translation by David Pountney and dialogue by John Copley. Joining the cast in the role of the jailer, Frosch, is Welsh actor Steve Speirs. Better known to some as Alan in the Sky One series Stella, Steve has appeared in TV shows including Extras, Doctor Who and Miranda, and has also appeared in feature films including Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
- Full details are at http://www.wno.org.uk