Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Welsh National Opera


WNO—A Positive brand for the international promotion of Wales

    —  Welsh National Opera is one of the most highly regarded opera companies in the world. This reputation, founded on the permanent ensemble of Chorus and Orchestra, has remained consistent throughout the 54 years of the Company=s history. Over the last two years WNO has been described as the "best opera company in Britain" and has received unprecedented customer and press approval, having won or been nominated for virtually every UK opera prize[3].

    —  WNO consistently earns lengthy press and media previews and reviews both nationally and internationally, generating a quality and regularity of positive coverage for a "made in Wales" product. The Company is a good example of how indigenous cultural strength within a country (in this case the passion for choral singing) has been developed to gain world position and create a flagship and potential ambassador for that country.

WNO—Earning international investment for Wales

    —  WNO relies on a unique combination of funding from the Arts Council of England and the Arts Council of Wales. It is the only UK arts organisation to receive core funding from two separate Arts Councils. Other agencies from both countries are potential supporters and the private sector sponsorship that comes from individual donors, patrons, business sponsors, trusts and foundations, is also rooted in England as well as Wales.

    —  WNO is also successful at attracting foreign capital into Wales from international co-ventures (,400,000 in the last financial year). In recent years the Company has mounted co-productions with opera companies in Monte Carlo, Toulouse, Turin, Strasbourg, Paris, Bordeaux, Munich, Chicago, Houston, Sydney and Adelaide. These co-productions and hires, apart from feeding WNO's growing international reputation, also generate special projects such as the export of the entire WNO Chorus to perform Fidelio in Paris in 1997.

WNO—Working with international artists

    —  WNO employs singers and artists from all over the world, as well as regularly employing the best Welsh and British artists, and brings them to work in Wales. Many performers from outside Wales have had their professional debut with the Company and have gone on to enjoy major international careers, taking WNO and the name of Wales wherever they go.

    —  WNO is one of the presenting companies for The Cardiff Singer of the World Competition which offers the most highly sought after singing prize in the world and puts a very bright global television spotlight on Wales every two years.

WNO—A cultural ambassador

    —  WNO is extremely keen that its role as a cultural ambassador for Wales is exploited to the full by all bodies and organisations responsible for the promotion of Wales. Through excellence of product, and the scale of its ambition, WNO is able to make a considerable contribution to the national status of Wales. For example:

    —  In the last twelve years the Company has spectacularly promoted Wales abroad through major tours to Milan, New York, Tokyo and Paris, and is acknowledged to have helped stimulate important inward investment for Wales. These tours have been predominantly underwritten by the host country, although the Welsh Development Agency supported WNO's visits to New York and Japan, and while there, the WDA was a major presence hosting receptions around every performance. The Princess of Wales attended a Gala performance by WNO in New York as the then Patron of WNO. The Prince of Wales, WNO's current Patron, accompanied by the Princess of Wales and members of the Japanese Imperial family, attended a WNO Gala performance in Tokyo.

    —  In November 1999, at the invitation of the British Council, WNO undertook a two week educational residency in the Beijing Conservatoire of Music, culminating in a public concert attended by prominent Chinese business, political and diplomatic representatives. This project could be replicated regularly to promote Wales abroad.

    —  In 2001 WNO will be a major feature in Porto 2001, European Capital of Culture. 200 members of the full time WNO Company will present two performances of a new production of Beethoven's Leonore, and WNO's Chorus and Orchestra will present a concert with the internationally renowned Welsh tenor, Dennis O'Neill.

3   In 1999 Winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for La clemenza di Tito; Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for the Company's entire output; Winner of the Evening Standard Award for The Coronation of Poppea; Nominated for the South Bank Show Award for Billy Budd and Jenufa. This year, Winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Hansel & Gretel; Shortlisted for a South Bank Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera Back

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