A Christmas Carol

By Iain Bell and Simon Callow



December 2016

Company: Welsh National Opera / Fondazione Haydn di Bolzano e Trento

Director: Polly Graham

Conductor: James Southall

Orchestra: Orchestra Haydn

Lighting Design: Ceri James

Venue: Teatro Sociale, Trento

Photos: Nate Gibson


A Christmas Carol

Based on Charles Dickens' novel, Iain Bell’s one-man opera evokes Dickens’ staged readings, where he would have breathed life into every character himself. With this production, Polly and I developed the sole performer as a cross between Dickens and scrooge; a grumpy and timeless clown/narrator who has been staging the tale for centuries. We added a sidekick for him to play against; a kind of assistant and manager who forces him to go on even when he is tired of creating the same old Christmas cheer. Visually, I wanted to evoke a very classic Dickensian Christmas with trees and lights, but an edge of macabre with a memento mori of skulls on the trees and the looming beyond.

Originally conceived for a studio space in the Wales Millenium Centre, this production was brought new life and greater depth when we brought it to Trento, Italy, the following Christmas, where the age and majesty of the theatre fit the timelessness of the tale and the macabre nature of our telling.