Wednesday 10 April 2024

New Directions: two new Digital Opera Shorts from Music Theatre Wales

Music Theatre Wales' New Directions programme is devoted to re-imagining opera and in an age when the funds for commissioning and presenting new opera live are getting harder to come by, the company has released a pair of Digital Opera Shorts. The idea is that these short, digital pieces bring together all the elements that make opera so powerful – a continuous musical arc that conveys the inner story; an impactful human message; image; performance; and the operatic voice.

This year, four artists were invited to collaborate in opera for the first time. None of them had previously met, but all were excited by the potential of this multidisciplinary artform, and by the prospect of creating something in which music, story and image work as a single entity. 

In March 2024, two Digital Opera Shorts were released.

GRIEF explores the physical and emotional impact of loss and features music by British Ghanaian-Nigerian composer, musician and actor Francesca Amewudah-Rivers and text by writer/performer Connor Allen, known for his tenure as the Children’s Laureate of Wales and his role as an associate artist at The Riverfront in Newport. The performance features baritone Byron Jackson, dance and choreography from Arnold Matsena with additional vocals from Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, plus musicians from Sinfonia Cymru including Simmy Singh (who wrote the music for interbeing).

interbeing explores humanity's bond with nature and features music by Simmy Singh, a co-founder of the Manchester Collective and Sinfonia Cymru's creative associate, and libretto and visuals by multi-disciplinary artist ASHA, with soprano Anna Dennis.

Coming up Music Theatre Wales will be presenting Bwystfilod Aflan, a new monodrama by Conor Mitchell and Jac Ifan Moore looking at the reaction to Prosser Rhys’s crown-winning poem ATGOF (Memory) at the 1924 Eisteddfod. The poem is extensively about sexual experience and includes a short section on gay experience which caused controversy at the time. The opera is a co-commission with the Eisteddfod and Aberystwyth Music Centre and produced in association with Sinfonia Cymru to be performed alongside a new work for movement and voice by Eddie Ladd, giving her own take on the original poem. 

Full details from Music Theatre Wales' website.

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