Spellbound is the theme for Spring 2015, which will highlight the natural affinity between music and magic with revivals of Hansel & Gretel and The Magic Flute alongside a new production: Chorus!

Opening WNO’s Spring 2015 Season is a new production of Chorus!. The original concept was conceived by WNO and directed by David Pountney in 2004. This new version, also under the creative vision and direction of David Pountney, celebrates one of WNO’s greatest assets, the Chorus. Chorus! will feature soprano Lesley Garrett CBE performing alongside the WNO Chorus, and will be an enchanting, witty and spectacular journey through the rich repertoire of choral music and a chance to experience some of opera’s best-loved moments.

Chorus! will include opera classics such as the ‘Humming Chorus’ from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and ‘Va Pensiero’ from Verdi’s Nabucco alongside the Epigraph from Prokofiev’s War and Peace and ‘Alabama Song’ from Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Two pieces from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance will also feature: ‘A Policeman’s Lot’ and ‘With Cat-like Tread’.

Chorus! will be conducted by WNO Chorus Master, Alexander Martin.

Classic revivals of The Magic Flute and Hansel & Gretel will transport the audience into a world of magic, make-believe and delight, but are also ultimately about the power of rationalism over magic. WNO Music Director Lothar Koenigs will conduct both Hansel & Gretel and The Magic Flute.

Mozart’s much-loved The Magic Flute returns to WNO in this Magritte-inspired production – originally directed by Dominic Cooke – which features an angry lobster, a newspaper-reading lion and a fish that is transformed into a bicycle. The Magic Flute will feature a double cast with Allan Clayton and Benjamin Hulett sharing the role of Tamino and Sophie Bevan and Anita Watson sharing the role of Pamina. South African-born baritone Jacques Imbrailo will sing the role of Papageno, and Samantha Hay will sing the Queen of the Night.

The roles of the three boys will be sung by female students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as part of WNO’s partnership with the college to provide mentoring and support for its Opera Performance students.

The revival of Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel – originally directed by Richard Jones – is a dark re-telling of the well-known fairytale. Ailish Tynan will sing Gretel and Jurgita Adamonyté will sing Hansel. Adrian Thompson, who returns to WNO following his performances in Boulevard Solitude in Spring 2013, will sing the role of The Witch.

Describing the Spring season, WNO Chief Executive and Artistic Director David Pountney 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 fairy tales, have a serious point to make, and 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. Our production of Chorus! too is like one of those walks in the woods that are the common fare of fairy tales: where will it lead - is there a happy ending, or indeed an ending at all? It is in fact a kind of mystery tour in the company of 40 of our best and finest singers - so whatever the ending means, you can be sure it will be a rousing one!”

The Spring season will open with the WNO Orchestra in concert at St David’s Hall in Cardiff on Friday 16 January. Conducted by WNO Music Director Lothar Koenigs, the concert programme will draw on the Spellbound theme with four classics including Dv?rák’s The Noon Day Witch and Bartók’s Suite from Miraculous Mandarin. The pianist Olga Scheps will play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.4.

WNO Music Director Lothar Koenigs says: “I'm delighted to perform Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto with Olga Scheps. This concerto has one of the most magical beginnings in the whole concert repertoire. It's very poetic and breathtaking. The program includes three other fascinating pieces: The Noon Day Witch, a brilliant overture by Dv?rák, Prelude à l'après-midi d'un faune, a master stroke by Debussy and the revolutionary Miraculous Mandarin by Bartók, a score which is equal to The Rite of Spring in terms of directness, brutality, sensuality, geniality, innovation and cleverness.”

Alongside the mainscale operas, this Spring will see WNO working with youth groups in Pembrokeshire and Southampton. Working alongside composer Helen Woods, the groups will take themes from The Magic Flute and Hansel & Gretel to co-create new music which they will sing and perform alongside soprano Zoe Milton Brown and baritone Jonathan Ainscough. This work will give young people the opportunity of both creating and performing opera, enhancing their experience of the mainscale operas presented during the Spring season.

More information on WNO’s Spring Season is available at wno.org.uk/spellbound