The first of three LIVE events at The Wellesley in September is ‘Carmen on the Lake’ from Bregenz, Austria, on Thursday 14 September at 7pm.
Bizet’s opera is given spectacular treatment at its lakeside setting by the designer Es Devlin whose past work includes sets for such stars as Adele, Take That, U2, Pet Shop Boys and Kanye West.
She uses the imagery of playing cards to represent the fate Carmen feels she cannot escape. These cards, though, measure 30 square metres, producing astonishing visual images for the audience of 7000 in the amphitheatre. At one point one of the soloists actually scales the cards in the manner of a mountaineer. The lake itself is used as an extension of the stage with Carmen making her escape at the end of the first act by swimming away.
The Telegraph’s opera critic Mark Ronan said, If opera is theatre, and it certainly should be, then this big-audience production serves it brilliantly.”
Carmen is directed by Kasper Holten, Director of Opera at London’s Royal Opera House.
On Wednesday 20 September at 7.15pm audiences in Wellington can share the live transmission of ‘The Magic Flute’ from Holten’s home venue.
Mozart’s greatest and most popular opera tells the story of Prince Tamino who promises the Queen of the Night that he will rescue her daughter Pamina from the enchanter Sarastro. He begins his quest, accompanied by the bird-catcher Papageno.
Tamino and Papageno discover Sarastro is a wise and kind leader. They undergo three ordeals. By the end they are united with their true loves: Tamino with Pamina, and Papageno with his Papagena.
Mozart wrote the opera for a suburban theatre in Vienna drawing on the magical spectacle and earthy comedy of popular Viennese theatre. As well as being a comedy, ‘The Magic Flute’ is an expression of Mozart’s profound spiritual belief that enlightenment comes from the search for wisdom and virtue.
The production opens on Tuesday 12 September with British baritone Roderick Williams in the role of Papageno.
A new production of ‘King Lear’ at Shakespeare’s Globe on the south bank of the Thames is transmitted live on Thursday 21 September at 7.30pm. The theatre has a new Director in Nancy Meckler, formerly of Shared Experience, and this production is more traditional than those recently staged at The Globe. Critics have noted its ‘strength’ and ‘solidity’; one said, “This production is clear and precise, with nothing in excess.”
The role of Lear, the King who foolishly gives away his kingdom to his daughters and lives to regret it, is played by Kevin R McNally. The Stage’s critic said, “McNally is extremely deft, completely in control of his subtle performance. He tends towards comedy, playing a fool and luring us to laugh just enough until he shrinks back from that humour and suddenly becomes pathetic, vulnerable, childlike and it feels wrong to have laughed.”
In emphasising deprivation. broken family relationships and anger this production has resonances for contemporary audiences.