Archives for Welsh National Opera

Welsh National Opera’s In Parenthesis to be Broadcast this Summer

THIS summer the Welsh National Opera’s new opera In Parenthesis will be screened across Wales and broadcast online for free via The Opera Platform. The company aims to reach a wider audience for the show by broadcasting and screening the opera internationally and across Wales. It will be the first time that the Welsh National Opera will be screening a main scale opera in cinemas.

In Parenthesis_ WNO,COMPOSER; Iain Bell, Private John Ball; Andrew Bidlack,Bard of Brittannia_HQ Officer; Peter Coleman_Wright,Bard of Germania_Alice the Barmaid_The Queen of the Woods; Alexandra Deshorties,Lieutenant Jenkins; George Humphreys,LancWNO In Parenthesis. Photograph: Bill Cooper


Composed by Iain Bell, In Parenthesis is an operatic adaptation of poet, writer and artist David Jones’ epic poem. In Parenthesis reflects on Jones’ personal experience as a soldier at the Battle of Mametz Wood where he served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. The opera is an artistic response in commemoration of Wales’ role in the First World War and its losses during The Battle of the Somme.

In Parenthesis_ WNO,COMPOSER; Iain Bell, Private John Ball; Andrew Bidlack,Bard of Brittannia_HQ Officer; Peter Coleman_Wright,Bard of Germania_Alice the Barmaid_The Queen of the Woods; Alexandra Deshorties,Lieutenant Jenkins; George Humphreys,Lanc
WNO In Parenthesis. Photograph: Bill Cooper


The online broadcasting falls on the date of the centenary of The Battle of the Somme on 1 July and coincides with its performance at the Royal Opera House. The opera will also be screened in cinemas across Wales.


In Parenthesis_ WNO,COMPOSER; Iain Bell, Private John Ball; Andrew Bidlack,Bard of Brittannia_HQ Officer; Peter Coleman_Wright,Bard of Germania_Alice the Barmaid_The Queen of the Woods; Alexandra Deshorties,Lieutenant Jenkins; George Humphreys,Lanc

WNO In Parenthesis, Credit: Bill Cooper ©

by Rebecca Acres

The opera will also be screened in cinemas across Wales From July 3. Its live performances are running in Cardiff, Birmingham and London until July 1. For further details please visit: here

Welsh National Opera Unveils Unique Musical Event

The Welsh National Opera celebrates its 70th birthday and the centenary of Battle of the Somme with the world premiere of a new opera In Parenthesis. A commemoration of one of the most important battles of WW1, the play is an adaptation of a poem by David Jones and has been commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust with 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.

parenthesis 1David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins. Photo by David Massey

Composer Iain Bell and director David Pountney worked with conductor Carlo Rizzi to create a unique commemoration of the events of the Battle resulting in a unique narrative of wartime that is both suggestive and true to the events and gentle, subliminal and otherworldly. Co-librettists David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins have contributed to unveiling full musical potential and richness of In Parenthesis.

Iain Bell’s bold use of various musical styles – traditional Welsh folk songs, marching rhythms, fanfares and beautiful melodies – makes for a unique musical masterpiece fitting with the transcendent emotions carried by the original text. The final result is an opera that conveys the notions of hope, rebirth and a general lesson in mindful rememberance.

parenthesis 2Iain Bell. Photo by David Massey

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with WNO in bringing David Jones’ epic poem In Parenthesis to the stage.  At 14-18 NOW we commission artists to create contemporary responses to the First World War, connecting audiences across the UK with the centenary. Iain Bell’s opera will bring to life the story of these young soldiers at Mametz and the horrors they faced.”

parenthesis 4David Jones. Photo courtesy of The Estate of David Jones.

The costumes and staging were designed by Robert Innes Hopkins and are both historically accurate and mystical. The principal role of Private John Ball will be created by tenor Andrew Bidlack and furthermore notable performers gracing the stage in In Parenthesis are Mark Le Brocq, Donald Maxwel, Alexandra Deshorties, Graham Clark, Marcus Farnsworth, George Humphreys and Peter Coleman-Wright.

In a bid to bring the opera to as wide an audience as possible, the WNO will create an extensive programme of digital, youth and community projects. In February, the WNO will launch a digital platform. The platform will feature a series of episodes that will explore the background to the WNO’s In Parenthesis, the author of this epic war poem as well as other supporting content.

Other performances of In Parenthesis will be streamed live and free here from July 1 for six months on the platform and ARTE TV website. Members of the WNO will also engage in an extensive youth programmes including writing workshops, staging mini operas and other performances nationwide. In additional the National Museum Cardiff’s War Hell will support the endeavor with their The Battle of Mametz Wood in Art Exhibition and the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff will display a digital, interactive Installation commissioned by WNO.

by Magda Pirowska

Following its world première at Wales Millennium Centre (May 13, 7.15 pm) and further performances in Cardiff (May 21 and June 3), the work will tour to Birmingham and to London, as part of WNO’s annual residency at the Royal Opera House. A special performance at the Royal Opera House on Friday 1 July, 7.30pm will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

The project is supported by Colwinston Charitable Trust, the Jane Hodge Foundation, the Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Charity, the Kirby Laing Foundation, the John S Cohen Foundation and the 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, European Commission’s Creative Europe programme, The Royal Opera and Opera Europa.

The Opera Platform – Free, Live and on Demand – Available Now

WNO May SS3Cavalleria rusticana  – with Marianna Tarasova (Santuzza) and the chorus of WNO will be performed
by the WNO next summer. Photograph:  Brian Tarr

THE Royal Opera and Welsh National Opera is part of  The Opera Platform initiative set up by Opera Europa a new online platform dedicated to opera. The Opera Platform will offer, both opera fans and those interested to experience it for the first time, the opportunity to watch performances and access exclusive backstage content via a new online platform, The Opera Platform which is free, live and available on demand.


WNO May SS4A new production of Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande is part of the WNO 2015 summer season – A Terrible Innocence

This new website is supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe programme and created by a partnership led by Opera Europa – the European association of opera companies and festivals – with cultural broadcaster ARTE and 15 European opera companies including The Royal Opera and WNO in the UK. This partnership aims to extend the reach of opera internationally, as well as in Europe.

Frontispiece to In Parenthesis, (1937). Copyright The Estate of David Jones; Amgueddfa Cymru – the National Museum Wales

The Opera Platform offers free content from the 15 opera companies involved including full opera performances, extracts, synopses and background material, artist interviews and behind-the-scenes documentaries.

Król Roger will be the first opera from The Royal Opera to be streamed on The Opera Platform on May 16 2015. Szymanowski’s opera Król Roger is performed for the first time at Covent Garden this season, in a new production by Kasper Holten, Director of Opera for The Royal Opera.

The production is the first collaboration between Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano and Kasper Holten. Designs are by Steffen Aarfing, lighting design is by Jon Clark, video designs by Luke Halls and choreography by Cathy Marston.

The first full-length opera from Welsh National Opera to be streamed on the platform will be the Company’s new commission for 2016, In Parenthesis. Based on the poem In Parenthesis by World War I poet David  Jones, this new opera is composed by Iain Bell with a libretto by David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins. It will be directed by WNO Artistic Director David Pountney and conducted by Carlo Rizzi, with design by Robert Innes Hopkins.

by Caroline Simpson