Working with Young Artists

Mid Wales Opera has an enviably long record for working with young artists in the early stages of their careers.  We are very proud that many of the singers and musicians from our first 25 years have gone on to perform in the great opera houses and national companies of the world.

This year we’ve really gone to town on this aspect of our work, offering opportunities for young artists to perform and develop throughout the year.

Following the concert in May in St Davids Cathedral Festival which showcased two young artists alongside the fabulous, and more established talent of Helen Sherman, soprano Sara Lian Owen commented:

“Joining Mid Wales Opera at the St David’s Cathedral Festival this May was a great honour. It gave me the opportunity to perform some of my favourite arias and ensembles accompanied by the glorious MWO orchestra under Nicholas Cleobury. This was a particular highlight of the evening, as singing with an orchestra and accomplished soloists is an invaluable experience as a young artist. Whilst speaking to members of the audience after the concert it became very clear that MWO’s performances are a highly anticipated occasion on the festival calendar. It was a very memorable evening of music making, heightened by the ever-warm Welsh welcome.”

Baritone Timothy Connor agreed:

“Working with the Mid Wales Opera Chamber Orchestra was such a useful experience for me as a young singer. I was blown away by the luxurious sound they made and getting to sing with them was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. The conductor Nicholas Cleobury was so clear and led us in such a way that we felt musically looked after whilst still having enough space to create music in the moment. Having the opportunity to perform with such a great orchestra is a rare opportunity for a young artist in the early stages of my career and really gave me a flavour of what’s to come for me in my professional life.”

We are delighted that both Sara and Tim are joining Mid Wales Opera again next week with four other singers and a pianist for a week-long Young Artists Programme, involving detailed coaching, masterclasses, orchestral rehearsal, opportunities to perform in a variety of settings and to a range of audiences, all culminating in a public concert entitled “Figaro and Friends“, which will feature highlights from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.  

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MWO presents a series of exciting concert and community performances.

Firstly Mid Wales Opera will return to St Davids Cathedral Festival on Thursday 28 May with singers Helen Sherman, Timothy Connor and Sara Lian Owen; under the baton of Artistic Director Nicholas Cleobury.  Mid Wales Opera Chamber Orchestra will accompany the singers in popular operatic favourites from Mozart, Rossini and Beaumarchais in a concert aptly called “Figaro & Friends”.

St David's Cathedral

MWO will return to the stunning St David’s Cathedral as part of the 2015 festival

Following on from the visit to South-West Wales MWO will return to Mid Wales for its annual Opera Gala organised by the Friends of MWO at Gregynog on Sunday 19 July. Recent Young Artist alumni will present an evening of operatic delights accompanied by the fabulous pianist Charlotte Forrest.  The intimate setting of the Music Room, converted in the early part of the 20th century by the Davies Sisters whose patronage of the arts and music extends even to the present day, and the Grade 1 listed grounds, where picnics may be eaten int he long interval make this a special evening every year.

Later in the year Mid Wales Opera will present a concert with their own acclaimed Chamber orchestra at its home base Hafren in Newtown on Saturday 19 September.

MWO opera evening

MWO Operatic highlights at Hafren, Newtown

Long term, MWO has an ambitious programme of events including another collaboration with the Royal Welsh College and a touring programme in both England and Wales rooted in strong community engagement.

Visit the diary page on the MWO website for further details

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Mid Wales Opera Barber of Seville tour cancelled

Mid Wales Opera is sorry to announce that the planned tour of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville has been cancelled.

Arts Council England turned down an initial application for funding for the tour in England earlier in the year and were not able to consider a re-submitted application in a time-frame which would have enabled the company to enter into contracts, and secure additional funding needed to make the tour a reality.

MWO had hoped to mount a limited tour in Wales only but this has proved to be impossible, and, in consultation with Arts Council Wales (ACW) the Wales tour has been cancelled. However the company hopes to mount the production – directed by Edward Dick – at some point in the future.

Despite the setback, Mid Wales Opera has exciting plans for the future. After great success with landmark productions of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring and Bizet’s Carmen, directed by Dr. Jonathan Miller and a new score by Stephen McNeff.  2014 also saw a successful co-production with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Brecon Baroque of Handel’s Acis and Galatea.

In the short term MWO will return to St Davids Cathedral Festival on Thursday 28 May (http://stdavidscathedralfestival.co.uk/programme/) and will present an evening of opera highlights with MWO Young Artists at Hafren in Newtown on Saturday 19 September, both accompanied by the Mid Wales Opera Chamber Orchestra; while our regular Friends Gala at Gregynog on Sunday 19 July will provide an opportunity to hear some of our recent Young Artist alumni in concert. With the support of ACW MWO will undertake additional concert performances in the autumn at various Welsh venues.

Long term MWO has an ambitious programme of events in the coming three years including another collaboration with the Royal Welsh College and another touring programme in both England and Wales rooted in strong community engagement.

MWO remains committed to a mission of nurturing young singers and presenting outstanding work in places where audiences have little opportunity to experience live opera. In moving forward, MWO will build on the strong support it has received from the Arts Councils, our Friends and Patrons, our business supporters, notably Control Techniques, and a number of Trusts and Foundations. We would be delighted to hear from anyone who thinks they may be able to help!

 

Gareth Williams, Chair Mid Wales Opera

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Mid Wales Opera is pleased to announce 2015 autumn tour

Mid Wales Opera are pleased to announce that its nationwide touring production for autumn 2015 will be Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Sung in an English translation the company will open its annual tour at Hafren, Newtown on 10 & 12 September followed by performances throughout Wales and England with the English premiere at Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield on 16 September 2015.

MWO have secured the creative talents of director Edward Dick, whose directing career began with international theatre company Cheek by Jowl and has since moved on to opera including the UK premiere of Maometto Secondo at Garsington Opera and the world premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness at the Royal Opera House.  Designing The Barber of Seville costumes and set is Oliver Townsend.  A graduate of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Oliver has previously worked with English Touring Opera, at the Edinburgh Festival and with Blackheath Halls Opera.  Joining them will be Declan Randall whose sensitive lighting has enhanced MWO’s recent shows including Acis & Galatea and Carmen.  To complete this dynamic team MWO’s Artistic Director Nicholas Cleobury will conduct the Mid Wales Opera Chamber Orchestra, in this exciting new production of an ever popular comedy classic.

The full company will be announced in the coming weeks along with further tour and venue details; in the meantime you can keep up to date with MWO on the websiteTwitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Win an exclusive signed Carmen programme by Rory Bremner & Jonathan Miller by becoming a MWO Friend

If you have supported Mid Wales Opera during our 25th anniversary with a visit to watch Acis & Galatea or Carmen then why not continue your support of MWO in 2015 by joining the Friends of MWO.

You will be kept up to date with newsletters and advance notice of MWO activities and be able to feel that you are supporting us on the way. Our local Friends committees also organise occasional fundraising events including an annual Gala concert in the beautiful surroundings of Gregynog Hall.

Membership starts at £15 (£25 for a family) and joining is simple just download a form from our website and send it to; Mid Wales Opera, Bryn Wgan, Caserws, Powys, SY17 5QU or alternatively email the form friends@midwalesopera.co.uk

All new Friends of MWO will automatically be entered in a prize draw to win a MWO Carmen programme signed by Jonathan Miller, Rory Bremner and MWO’s Artistic Director Nicholas Cleobury, the winner will be announced on 30 January so be sure not to miss out on supporting.

If you would like further information about the MWO Friends scheme or our Patron’s Circle for those who would like to support us further, please email friends@midwalesopera.co.uk

 

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So how does a “Here for One Night Only” touring opera Company put together and take down a whole entire set? Ask no longer with this 4 minute MWO Carmen time lapse video, created in collaboration with the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil and Showdigs. You may spot a few things you didn’t expect to see…

 

 

 

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October 14, 2014 · 11:59 am

Life on Tour

Jan Capinski’s latest blog about life on the road with #MWOCarmen

This week marks the beginning of the tour proper. 4 shows over 8 days, but what does that mean exactly? Well, Carmen is about 2.5 hours long, of which I personally spend just over an hour on stage performing, so 4 shows gives me say 5 hours of performing. With that comes about 2.5h rehearsing to get a feel for the diverse venues we visit, 14h of hanging around backstage (before the show, during the show), and then there’s the killer – 23 hours of driving.

Everyone deals with it differently. Some travel the day before the show, some stay over after the performance, others blitz the journey there and back to London in one day. We try to stay with friends when possible, for one leg of the tour in North Wales some of us have booked a cottage in Snowdonia for a whole week. And everyone tries to fit their ‘normal’ home life around it all – family, teaching work, singing lessons, preparing for the Autumn round of auditions, etc. Try as you may though, the tour does take over…

Now the hope is that no one in the audience can see that all of this is happening. And judging by the response we’ve had so far, we’ve managed to avoid bringing any of the weird touring mindset onto the stage. In fact, every time I walk out it feels like I’m back in Newtown, inhabiting the familiar set that has become our home away from home. And as the show becomes the overpowering constant in our lives, it is settling and evolving at the same time – different every night, but secure and consistent.

It’s a strange lifestyle, one I haven’t ever experienced before. Sometimes lonely, often silly, tiring, rewarding, unsettled, exciting… And though the night-time drives home through storms while listening to history (almost) being written (yes, referendum coverage) take their toll, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. I can see touring life may not suit everyone, but it’s something every singer should try if they are given the chance: it’s an extremely condensed version of the classical singer’s lifestyle and you learn a lot about yourself doing it.

You can watch Mid Wales Opera’s touring production of Carmen at various venues across the country, to find your nearest theatre visit our website

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Carmen takes to the stage

Mid Wales Opera’s highly anticipated tour of Carmen has  finally hit the road and the Company is now embarking on a 24 date tour of Wales and England.

In a new orchestration especially commissioned for the Mid Wales Opera Chamber Orchestra by composer Stephen McNeff – “he recalibrates the instrumental sound, albeit taking his cues from Bizet; the alto sax captures the smoky, sultry atmosphere” The Guardian ***Carmen has excited audiences and critics at its opening performances at Hafren, Newtown, with high praise for the cast and in particular Helen Sherman as Carmen;

“Can a vamp with a vaporiser radiate danger? A blonde with killer legs, watchful eyes and a wonderfully elastic, expressive tone, Helen Sherman as Carmen sure can.The Times ****.

“sensuous and sassy, she controls her mezzo throughout the range, from rich chest-voice to fearless top registers. Crucially, she is a magnetic presence even when she is not singing or centrestage: at the first appearance of the toreador Escamillo (the suave Nicholas Lester), the fickle Carmen’s body language says it all: she smoulders.” The Guardian ***

This popular operatic gem is sure to be at a venue near and tickets are selling quickly so be sure to contact a venue near you today and not miss out on this real operatic treat. You can find further reviews and a full list of dates on the Mid Wales Opera website

All images copyright Robert Workman
Nichols Lester as Escamillo

Nichols Lester as Escamillo

Cast of MWO's Carmen

Cast of MWO’s Carmen

Carmen - Bizet - Mid Wales Opera - The Hafren Centre, Newton - 4th September Director - Jonathan Miller Translation - Rory Bremner Conductor - Nicholas Cleobury Orchestration - Stephen McNeff Designer - Nicky Shaw Lighting - Declan Randall Carmen - Hele

Mid Wales Opera Carmen

The ladies of the Carmen company; Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Helen Sherman, Daisy Brown, Dawn Burns & Angharad Watkeys

The ladies of the Carmen company; Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Helen Sherman, Daisy Brown, Dawn Burns & Angharad Watkeys

Helen Sherman as Carmen

Helen Sherman as Carmen

Oliver Brignall as Remendado

Oliver Brignall as Remendado

Daisy Brown as Frasquita

Daisy Brown as Frasquita

Andrew Mahon

Andrew Mahon

Marta Fontanals-Simmons as Mercedes

Marta Fontanals-Simmons as Mercedes

Leonel Pinheiro as Don Jose

Leonel Pinheiro as Don Jose

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First Carmen production photos

Last night saw Mid Wales Opera perform their dress rehearsal for Carmen. Have a look at these exclusive pictures taken by Robert Workman at Hafren, Newtown

Helen Sherman & Leonel Pinheiro (Carmen & Don Jose)

Helen Sherman & Leonel Pinheiro (Carmen & Don Jose)

Simon Wilding (Zuniga) & Daisy Brown (Frasquita) showing us how its done

Simon Wilding (Zuniga) & Daisy Brown (Frasquita) showing us how its done

 

 

 

 

MWO Carmen

MWO Carmen

Nicholas Lester as the Toreador Escamillo

Nicholas Lester as the Toreador Escamillo

Helen Sherman  in her first portrayal of Carmen

Helen Sherman in her first portrayal of Carmen

Carmen - Bizet - Mid Wales Opera - The Hafren Centre, Newton - 4th SeptemberDirector - Jonathan MillerTranslation - Rory BremnerConductor - Nicholas CleoburyOrchestration - Stephen McNeffDesigner - Nicky ShawLighting - Declan RandallCarmen - Hele

Helen Sherman in her first portrayal as Carmen

SImon WIlding & Jan Capinksi. Lighting by Declan Randall

SImon WIlding & Jan Capinksi. Lighting by Declan Randall

Daisy Brown, Helen SHerman & Marta Fontanals-Simmons

Daisy Brown, Helen Sherman & Marta Fontanals-Simmons

#MWOCarmen army

#MWOCarmen army

 

Carmen - Bizet - Mid Wales Opera - The Hafren Centre, Newton - 4th September Director - Jonathan Miller Translation - Rory Bremner Conductor - Nicholas Cleobury Orchestration - Stephen McNeff Designer - Nicky Shaw Lighting - Declan Randall Carmen - Hele

Marta Fontanals-Simmons & Andrew Mahon

Carmen - Bizet - Mid Wales Opera - The Hafren Centre, Newton - 4th September Director - Jonathan Miller Translation - Rory Bremner Conductor - Nicholas Cleobury Orchestration - Stephen McNeff Designer - Nicky Shaw Lighting - Declan Randall Carmen - Hele

Tristan Stocks, Oliver Brignall, Helen Sherman & Simon Wilding

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September 3, 2014 · 9:50 am