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Current Tour:

Shoulder to Shoulder

A pilot for a new opera produced in conjunction with Men's Sheds Cymru

Composer Caradog Williams, Librettist Brendan Wheatley
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WELCOME to Swansea City Opera. Since 2006 we have toured high-quality opera to venues throughout the UK. Our tours include many theatres that rarely programme opera. Swansea City Opera aims to make the world of opera accessible to everyone.

One of the highlights of touring opera is our work working with community choirs of local people who sing with our professional singers in some of the world’s greatest operas from Mozart’s Don Giovanni to Verdi’s La Traviata.

We believe music is a universal language. Singing builds connections between people, develops self-confidence, and gives people the opportunity to discover more about the craft of staging a professional opera.

Working with local communities became one of the most satisfying and inspiring elements of our work and something we’ve become renowned for.

Through our outreach work in 2020, we developed a unique partnership with Men’s Sheds Cymru, part of an internationally acclaimed movement, which improves older men’s well-being. Men’s Sheds Cymru supports men experiencing, and at risk of, loneliness and social isolation. “Shedders” might also experience problems such as long-term illness, poor mental health, and life-changing events such as redundancy, family breakdown and bereavement. Men’s Sheds Cymru supports men to overcome difficulties with new friendships, make connections with the wider community, and take part in enriching activities including music.

Our work with Men’s Sheds Cymru has created the unique opera Shoulder to Shoulder. The opera was composed by Caradog Williams with a libretto (script) inspired by “Shedders” stories – ranging from the funny to the moving and thought-provoking – by Brendan Wheatley. Shoulder to Shoulder features professional singers as well as “Shedders” from local communities.

“Swansea City Opera, Bridgett and Brendan have been great.

They have been able to meet ‘shedders’ in person (when it was permissible under Covid-19 rules). With each visit they spent time meeting the shed members, quickly putting them at ease and really encouraging them to take part and tell their stories. Brendan took time explaining the project, what they were looking for and plans for the piece.

 Most importantly the whole process was fun and creative. We’re looking forward to doing more together in the coming weeks and months.”

 ROBERT VISINTAINER – PROJECT MANAGER MEN’S SHEDS CYMRU

During lockdown, and via Zoom, our Artistic Director Brendan Wheatley talks here about  Swansea City Opera’s aim of making opera accessible to everyone, and the importance of our partnership with Men’s Sheds Cymru.

We’re involving Shedders as singers, extras, or behind the scenes.

“The idea of a Men’s Shed opera is brilliant. We would love to continue to be
involved and really hope that Swansea City Opera is able to get some funding to
produce the whole opera. If the opera is put on in Bridgend I think that some of our members would like to join in with the choir.”

“I would like to have a go and sing in the chorus. I sing in the house by myself. You never know I could be the next Paul Pott. This place is brilliant you see people improve. I wouldn’t talk to
anyone at first but now I’ve got to know everyone. I’m there at 8am!”

SHEDDERS FROM THE SQUIRREL’S NEST MEN’S SHED, BRIDGEND
Shoulder to Shoulder toured to grassroots venues including community halls as well as traditional arts venues in autumn/winter 2021.  Subject to funding, we hope to do a further tour in 2022.

INTERNATIONAL WORK

We’re building a reputation – nationally and internationally – for our engagement work.

We were delighted to be the first Welsh arts organisation to be funded by the British Council Cultural Heritage Fund.

In 2019, we delivered Our Heritage a unique programme in Lebanon, funded by the British Council’s £30 million Cultural Protection Fund, collecting the unique cultural heritage traditions and memories of Palestinian and Syrian refugees. It is estimated there are 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon with many people displaced for half a generation making it vital that Syrian culture – from dance to singing and music – is preserved. Palestinian refugees first arrived in Lebanon during the 1940s. The Shatila refugee camp was established over 70 years ago and means new traditions of festival, music, and oral history have been established over the years.  You can read more about the project here (link)

We want to develop more partnerships with other Men’s Sheds Cymru groups and other community projects. Swansea City Opera is keen to develop international collaborations building on the success of our British Council project.  If you’ve got a project idea that you’d like to talk to us about, please get in touch. enquiries@swanseacityopera.com

Zoom Room Brendan Wheatley Swansea City Opera Mens Sheds Cymru – YouTube

 

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