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Welsh National Opera Press Release, 26th May 2004 (BK)

Tugan Sokhiev to withdraw from La Traviata at WNO

Tugan Sokhiev, Music Director of Welsh National Opera, announced his decision on Wednesday not to conduct further performances of the company’s new production of La Traviata.

Mr. Sokhiev took up his position as Music Director of WNO in January 2003. His first new production for the Company was in the spring of this year with Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, the opera with which he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera House
New York in summer 2003 with the Mariinsky Theatre (formerly the Kirov Opera). In 2003, he also conducted WNO’s revivals of Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci and Don Giovanni.

In a press announcement dated May 26th, Mr. Sokhiev said: “It goes without saying that La Traviata is a great masterpiece and I believe that this outstanding production by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser will continue to delight our audiences. However, it is my first Verdi, and the rehearsal period was significantly disrupted by cast illnesses. I do not feel, in the circumstances, that I can deliver my musical vision of the piece. I send the cast, chorus and orchestra my support and best wishes for the rest of the run.”

Anthony Freud, General Director of WNO, also said: “I fully support Tugan in his difficult and courageous decision. This repertoire is ideal for him, but the interruptions to the rehearsal process caused by cast illness have resulted in a situation with which he feels deeply uncomfortable. It is typical of his acute self-awareness and clarity of understanding that he has reached the conclusion which he considers to be in the interests of the remainder of the performances”.

The remainder of the run will be conducted by Julian Smith, WNO’s Head of Music, who was scheduled to conduct a number of performances later in the season. La Traviata will be given in Southampton (8 & 11 June), Plymouth (15 & 18 June), Birmingham (22 & 25 June), Bristol (29 June and 2 July), Oxford (6 & 9 July), and Llandudno (13 & 16 July). WNO's Summer Season also includes Janacek's Katya Kabanova and Bizet's Carmen.

A decision regarding whether Mr. Sokhiev will conduct next year’s performances of La Traviata will be made in due course. Speaking personally and not wishing to detract from Julian Smith’s capabilities in the slightest, as someone who enjoyed this Traviata and the earlier Onegin enormously, I sincerely hope that Mr. Sokhiev will be able to return

Bill Kenny


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