The Orchestra of Welsh National Opera was founded in 1970. Since then it has established itself as one of the finest British orchestras, in a wide-ranging operatic repertoire - from Monteverdi through Handel and Mozart to Wagner, Janáček, Maxwell Davies and MacMillan - and for its concert work and recordings.
Former music directors of WNO include Sir Charles Mackerras , Richard Armstrong and Tugan Sokhiev. Carlo Rizzi was Musical Director from 1992-2001, returning in 2004 to lead the company into its new home in Cardiff Bay, Wales Millennium Centre, until 2007. Lothar Koenigs joined the Company as music director in 2009, having already established a relationship with the orchestra, with Khovanshchina and Salome in the theatre and in St David's Hall, Cardiff.
In addition to extensive touring of opera throughout the UK, the orchestra has developed its profile in the concert hall in recent years.
It has featured in three symphonic concerts at St David's Hall each season as well as many concerts at major Welsh and English venues and festivals. These include the Royal Festival Hall and Barbican, London; Symphony Hall, Birmingham; Bridgewater Hall, Manchester; the BBC Proms in London and the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, with international artists including Bryn Terfel, Angela Gheorghiu and José Carreras.