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Welsh National Opera (WNO) is an opera company founded in Cardiffmarker, Walesmarker in 1946. The WNO tours Wales, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world extensively. Annually, it gives more than 120 performances of eight main scale operas. In Cardiff, Bristolmarker, Birminghammarker, Liverpoolmarker, Llandudnomarker, Oxfordmarker, Milton Keynesmarker, Plymouthmarker, Southamptonmarker and Swanseamarker, they regularly perform to over 150,000 people.

Although productions were initially sung in English translation, from the 1970s onwards, operas were increasingly sung in the original languages; not only Italian, German and French, but also Russian and Czech. Surtitles were also provided.

Wales Millennium Centre, home of Welsh National Opera in Cardiff


The Company has always provided a mix of traditional and less-well-known operas, including those of Alban Berg, Richard Strauss, Leoš Janáček and Benjamin Britten.

In 2004, WNO acquired its first permanent home in Cardiff in the Wales Millennium Centremarker, a performing arts centre in Cardiff Baymarker.

The opera company consists of a professional orchestra (The Orchestra of Welsh National Opera) and a professional choir (The Chorus of Welsh National Opera). Sometimes, the orchestra and the choir perform at events independently of one another. The orchestra and the choir often perform at St David's Hallmarker in Cardiff and at other venues throughout Wales.

Past WNO music directors have included Vilém Tauský, Warwick Braithwaite, Sir Richard Armstrong and Sir Charles Mackerras. Carlo Rizzi was music director from 1992 to 2001. Tugan Sokhiev became music director in 2003, initially with a five-year contract. However, Sokhiev terminated his contract in August 2004, after concerns about his relative inexperience and difficulties with the administration caused tension within WNO. Rizzi returned as WNO music director for his second tenure, and served in the post through the end of the 2007 summer season. In July 2008, WNO announced the appointment of the German conductor Lothar Koenigs as WNO's next music director, effective in 2009. He had first appeared with the WNO orchestra in 2005. Koenigs had subsequently conducted at WNO in February 2007 in David Pountney's production of Khovanshchina.

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