Buxton International Festival: Welsh opera star brings drama to Roman tragedy

Fflur Wyn in rehearsals. Photo by Sian Trenberth.
Fflur Wyn in rehearsals. Photo by Sian Trenberth.

Making a bloodthirsty despot change his tune is the latest singing challenge for Welsh opera star Fflur Wyn as she returns to Buxton Opera House as part of the town’s International Festival.

Buxton was one of the stops in Fflur’s first experience of opera when she toured as a 19-year-old with Jane Eyre in 2000. That experience persuaded her to follow a career in opera which has seen her perform in productions from Berlin to Mexico City.

“I’ve always been singing,” said Fflur, who started her career singing in eisteddfodau, winning at both the Urdd National Eisteddfod and at the National Eisteddfod, where she won the coveted Osborne Roberts Prize for young singers.

“My first concert was when I was three. In Wales that’s quite commonplace.”

But it was the drama of Jane Eyre which hooked her on opera: “I’ve always been interested in theatre and drama,” said Fflur, who will appear in Lucio Silla, Mozart’s version of the story of Roman Dictator Lucius Sulla.

“There’s such a difference between singing in a concert and opera. With opera, you become a different character. You can research aspects of that and play different types of roles.”

In the festival, Fflur will be playing Silla’s sister Celia, a voice of reason balancing the dictator’s lust for power – and the daughter of his enemy.

“Her views of the world are very mature,” said Fflur, who was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM) in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the music profession.

“You see an interesting relationship between her and her brother, a very caring side of Lucio Silla, which is important at the end so that when you see his big change of heart it doesn’t look like it comes out of nowhere.

“The festival itself is fantastic,” said Fflur. “It’s such a privilege to be going back there to sing again.”

Mozart was only 16 when he wrote Lucio Silla, but Festival Artistic Director Stephen Barlow described it as “a thrillingly virtuosic work, full of brilliance and affecting beauty, rarely performed and even more rarely staged.”

Lucio Silla will be performed at Buxton Opera House on July 9, 13, 15 and 20.

For more details and to book tickets, visit www.buxtonfestival.co.uk or phone 01298 72190.