Welsh National Opera celebrates 75th Birthday with newly commissioned poem & Chorus recordings

To mark its 75th birthday, Welsh National Opera (WNO) has released a poem which has been specially commissioned by the company from National Poet of Wales, Ifor ap Glyn.

The poem, Intermezzo, reflects on the Company’s humble beginnings and transformation into the world-renowned opera company it is today. The poem also reflects on the current situation faced by all arts organisations that cannot perform at this time and gives hope for a ‘brighter stage’ for the future.

Two versions – one in Welsh, and one in English – of the poem have been written, recorded and released as films.

Welsh voices featured include opera singer Sir Bryn Terfel, rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards, Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, harpist Catrin Finch, singer/songwriter Caryl Parry Jones, opera singer Rebecca Evans, Welsh folk singer Dafydd Iwan, and Welsh actors Dame Siân Phillips, Mark Lewis Jones and Rakie Ayola.

WNO is celebrating 75 years since its first performance as an opera company, which was a double-bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cardiff on 15 April 1946. To mark this anniversary the renowned WNO Chorus and Orchestra will release a special newly recorded version of Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana.

WNO Chorus re-trace the Company’s journey, taking a walk-through history from its humble origins in Llandaff, Cardiff to its current home at Wales Millennium Centre, culminating in a stunning performance of Easter Hymn on the Donald Gordon Stage. With soloist Camilla Roberts joining the full forces of the WNO Chorus and Orchestra which is conducted by James Southall.



WNO General Director Aidan Lang said:

“We are delighted to share Intermezzo on the occasion of our 75th birthday and offer our heartfelt thanks to Wales’ National Poet Ifor ap Glyn for encapsulating WNO’s story in such a fitting way. We would also like to thank all those involved in the recordings for their time and support in helping us to produce these special films. The pandemic is proving to be a difficult time for everyone and for the arts as a whole, but we must remember that WNO first emerged during a global crisis; World War II. The spirit and vision of Idloes Owen lives on through the Company, and we remain confident that we will come out of this crisis stronger and look to the future with hope and optimism. The poem and Easter Hymn are both a celebration of Wales’s heritage as the land of song and a reflection on the importance of music and the arts to all of our lives”.



Merthyr-born musician Idloes Owen initially had the idea to form a national opera company for Wales in 1943 and led a group of amateur singers from all walks of life including miners, teachers and doctors, to come together through their passion for music and singing. The first meeting and rehearsal of the Welsh National Opera Company took place in a chapel in Crwys Road, Cardiff.

Idloes Owen conducted WNO’s first performances in 1946 and continued to be the Company’s musical director until his death in 1954.

WNO continues to be rooted within the Cardiff and Valleys communities where it was originally formed and works with those communities where it tours in Wales and England. By working with schools, supporting families living with dementia, refugees and asylum seekers, and talented young performers and technicians through its Youth Opera programme, WNO can continue involving people from across our communities in taking part and enjoying opera and music.

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