A unique Welsh opera with language at its heart will be shown on S4C as a result of a partnership between the channel, Welsh National Opera (WNO) and TV producers Rondo Media.
Gair ar Gnawd will be screened in full on S4C on Saturday 25 April at 7.30pm, exactly a week following the public performance at Ffwrnes theatre in Llanelli on 18 April.
Also, on Wednesday 22 April 7.30pm, an S4C documentary, Opera Gair ar Gnawd: Tu ôl y Llen, will guide us through the work on the production; the singers, the chorus, the production and of course the performance itself. English subtitles are available for both programmes.
Gair ar Gnawd is a contemporary story about Wales today, inspired by the tale of translating the Bible. The multi-language production is predominantly features Welsh, English, Maltese and Hindi, and tells the passionate story of a tattoo artist called Awen and a Bible translator called Anwar who must overcome their prejudices to work together when the centre of their community is threatened by a greedy property developer.
S4C Content Commissioner for Entertainment, Elen Rhys, says; "Gair ar Gnawd is an Opera with wide appeal, combining work by celebrated individuals with a significant and vital contribution by the community in the Llanelli area. S4C is proud of our partnership with Welsh National Opera, as part of our continuing commitment to work with and support the creative industries in Wales. And we are thrilled to be able to include this original and very Welsh Opera as part of the S4C schedule."
Gair ar Gnawd has been composed by Pwyll ap Siôn with a libretto by poet Menna Elfyn. The production features an experienced creative team including Angharad Lee (Director), Jenny Pearson (Musical Director) and Becky Davies (Designer). The music will be provided by a string ensemble from the WNO Orchestra alongside pianist Annette Bryn Parri and other professional musicians. Taking the lead roles of Awen and Anwar are WNO Chorus mezzo soprano Siân Meinir and baritone Dyfen Wyn Evans, who performs regularly in WNO's extra chorus.
There is also a strong community element with local singers from local choirs and schools in the Llanelli and wider Carmarthenshire area coming together to form the 40-strong chorus who will perform alongside WNO's professional singers and musicians. They will be supported by a semi chorus formed of eight young singers, many of them undergraduates, chosen during an open audition process in Caernarfon and Cardiff.
It is set to be an unforgettable experience for the community and the aspiring singers to be part of a production with such an experienced opera company as WNO, and we can follow their experiences in the S4C documentary in the company of presenter Trystan Ellis Morris.
Rondo Media is the company responsible for producing the programme and their cameras have been following WNO's team for some weeks.
Gareth Williams, Rondo Media Chief Executive says; "We've enjoyed working with Welsh National Opera on broadcasting several classic operas from La Traviata to Falstaff with Bryn Terfel, for broadcast on S4C, but this latest project is unique.
"The opera itself is innovative but the story surrounding the project is just as gripping and the process has been a pleasure to follow – from the auditions to cast young Welsh voices in the chorus to seeking out performers in the Llanelli area to join them and the main characters on stage. It has been a privilege to film some of the auditions and the rehearsals, and we look forward to filming the final performances at Llanelli's great Ffwrnes theatre."
Emma Flatley, Director of Partnerships and Engagement at WNO says; "It is a great opportunity to work with S4C on Gair ar Gnawd. We are delighted to be visiting Llanelli, an area where WNO hasn't toured opera before, and to be working with singers from the Gwendraeth Valley and across Wales. Furthermore, we are able to reach much wider audiences across Wales through this partnership with S4C, and we are looking forward to this being the start of several future collaborations."
Gair ar Gnawd is performed at Ffwrnes theatre in Llanelli on Saturday 18 April. The full performance Opera Gair ar Gnawd: Y Perfformiad will be screened on S4C on Saturday 25 April 7.30pm, and the S4C documentary, Opera Gair ar Gnawd: Tu ôl y Llen, is shown on Wednesday 22 April 7.30pm, both are available with English subtitles.
Notes to editors:
Gair ar Gnawd is performed at Ffwrnes theatre in Llanelli on Saturday 18 April at 7pm. See more information about the production and how to buy tickets on the website: http://www.wno.org.uk/event/gair-ar-gnawd