Theatre in Wales

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sea story:
Welsh choral tradition turns on its head as Welsh National Opera presents its first large-scale community project on the stage of Wales Millennium Centre on August 27

400 choristers drawn from the port towns of South Wales
70 WNO Orchestra musicians
11 WNO Chorus members
23 brass band musicians
(oh, yes and 1 beautiful man)

The Most Beautiful Man From The Sea is a choral work with a difference, performed by residents from port towns in South Wales and members of the WNO Company on a world-renowned stage. It is a journey into the heart of a maritime community, an impact achieved through the transformation of the WMC’s theatre into a world of sea, light and whistling winds.

Entering the space will be a unique experience, conjured up by an extraordinary chorus – who range in age from eight to eighty six – a full orchestra and the award-winning Tredegar Town Band. The choristers are amateur singers, but enjoy a range of professional experience between them – from engineering to bee keeping.

Dancers caught on film will create a moving sky above a rippling tide of choristers singing a score of startling originality, one far removed from popular perceptions of the Welsh choral tradition. Composers Richard Chew and Orlando Gough travel the world in a score that combines the haunting sounds of Argentinean tango with the rousing songs of a Hebridean fishing community.

The words of the piece have been written by Gwyneth Lewis, Wales’ First National Poet, and the author of the bilingual inscription dominating the front of the WMC. Written whilst sailing down the Atlantic Coast, Gwyneth’s libretto is suffused with the atmosphere, colour and sounds of an island community whose liveliehood depends on the sea.

The Most Beautiful Man From The Sea has been inspired by a short story by acclaimed South American writer Gabriel García Márquez. It is a magical story of renewal and redemption, telling of a charismatic stranger who arrives in a rundown seaside community that long ago gave up dreaming of a brighter future. The stranger makes a remarkable impact on the community, setting off a chain of events that leads to the transformation of lives. Associated British Ports, a catalyst in the

transformation and “renaissance” of Cardiff Bay, are sponsors of the production with support from The Foyle Foundation.

Iain Paterson, a one-time “hit man” turns beautiful man for the production. Iain sang with WNO in their recent production of Rigoletto where he took on the role of the dastardly villain Sparafucile.

“He’s just about as nasty as you can get,” explains Iain. “The transition from this completely immoral character to someone who is such a wonderful figure of reconciliation is a great challenge.”

The logistics of drawing together a project on this scale have required near military planning – each nook and cranny of WNO’s brand new rehearsal facilities will be commandeered for rehearsals numbering several hundred people at a time, whilst wardrobe supervisor Clarissa Bromelle is buying up gallons of blue dye for the costume making and rummaging through mountains of clothing sourced as part of her work for film and TV. (She has worked for a variety of programmes from Smack the Pony to The Vicar of Dibley).

The Most Beautiful Man from the Sea is remarkable in another way too: it is a co-production with WMC and will draw on the talents and resources of all seven resident companies of WMC: Academi, Diversions Dance, Hijinx Theatre Company, Touch Trust, T_ Cerdd and Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the largest youth movement in Europe.

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Penny Simpson
Thursday, August 11, 2005back



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