Theatre in Wales

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Music Theatre Wales and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama continue their partnership     

Music Theatre Wales and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama continue their partnership Contemporary Opera Company Music Theatre Wales and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama continue their partnership with two projects designed to produce opera writers and performers of the future.

Music Theatre Wales and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama continue their partnership, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, with two projects Make an Aria and Contemporary Scenes, designed to inspire students to be the creators and performers of new opera in their future careers.

In Make an Aria, Music Theatre Wales have been working over the past few months with five student composers from the College alongside writers from Cardiff University and the University of South Wales.

Based on recorded stories, collected items and photographs of people associated with St Fagans and its role as a WWI Hospital, the brand new arias will give operatic life to those people 100 years on, imagining their thoughts and reflecting on that moment in their lives. St Fagans Castle estate, like many other country estates in Wales, had a major role to play in the First World War effort.
Members of the public will be able to enjoy being able to see part of the creative process and development of the composers’ and writers’ works at two special events.
At a Master Class open to the public on 26 February, the arias will be sung by professional singers at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s Richard Burton Theatre. Jonathan Dove, one of the UK’s most prolific and successful opera composers, will comment on the students’ work giving feedback on what they have created so far.

Following the Master Class in February, the composers and writers will be able to refine their work. The project will culminate in the arias being staged at St Fagans National History Museum on 7th July where student singers and musicians will perform the completed works created by the young writers and composers on site where the WW1 hospital was located. The project is designed for emerging composers and librettists to discover the excitement and challenges of writing new opera and gives audiences a unique insight into this process.

“The primary aim of Make an Aria is to provoke and explore the nature of the collaboration between writer and composer when creating opera,” said Michael McCarthy, Joint Artistic Director of Music Theatre Wales. He continues “This is an exceptional opportunity for all the participating artists and for the museum, where we will be bringing the collection very much alive through this project. There will be several performances of the arias during the afternoon to enable visitors to encounter each aria on location.”

John Hardy, Head of Contemporary Music at the Royal Welsh College adds. “Our association with Music Theatre Wales has been especially valuable and beneficial for our composers. Make An Aria is another opportunity for them to work closely with writers who are serious about their work, experienced, and keen to collaborate. All of this, in an atmosphere of exploration and adventure, and within a framework that is supported at all stages by Music Theatre Wales’ highly experienced director & conductor, as well as a stage manager, a designer, and the space to imagine the new works coming to fruition in various beautiful corners of the iconic and historic Museum Of Welsh Life at St Fagans.”

Amy Willock is a fourth year undergraduate composer taking part in Make an Aria. It’s the first time she has composed for opera. She and her writing partner Tom Stuart were inspired by their time visiting St Fagans and they have both been drawn to the same character as the inspiration for their aria– a lady who kept diaries throughout this period and who lost all of her grandsons during the war.

Sioned Hughes, Head of Public History at St Fagans National History Museum said: “Make an Aria is a fantastic opportunity for us to work with Music Theatre Wales, students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and members of the Armed Forces community to interpret the history of St Fagans Castle as a hospital during the First World War in a completely new way. Visitors to the Museum are used to experiencing the live interpretation of history through re-enactors but we don‘t often experiment with musical interpretation. Museums are always redefining the way they engage with the public and performance art is part of that process.”

Make an Aria is a Music Theatre Wales project in partnership with St Fagans National History Museum and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.

Contemporary Scenes is the second current Music Theatre Wales project in partnership with Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

Working with joint MTW Artistic Directors Michael Rafferty and Michael McCarthy, student singers from the College will perform semi-staged extracts from a wide variety of contemporary operas, all of which have now entered the repertoire of opera companies around the world. The project will give the young singers the chance to discover the joys and challenges of working in new opera, and audiences the opportunity to hear and encounter new works by some of the most important living composers including Mark-Anthony Turnage, Harrison Birtwistle, Louis Andriessen, George Benjamin, Oliver Knussen, Tom Adés, Gerald Barry and Pascal Dusapin.

Performances of the staged works are open to the public and will take place on Friday 6 March at 7.30pm & on Saturday 7 March 2.30pm at the College’s Richard Burton Theatre with tickets available for £12.00.

Per performance talks 45 minutes prior to the performance will take place providing further insight in to the scenes to be performed.
More information and tickets to attend Make an Aria and Contemporary Scenes events are available at
More information on Music Theatre Wales is available at

Music Theatre Wales and Royal Welsh College  
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Monday, February 23, 2015back



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