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Current Tour Dates

2023

Shoulder to Shoulder

Moving, uplifting, and funny, Shoulder to Shoulder tells the real-life stories of men overcoming loneliness and social isolation. A top-flight ensemble of singers and musicians bring stories to life on stage this November. Shoulder to Shoulder is produced in partnership with Men’s Sheds Cymru.

Current Tour Dates

How do you beat loneliness? How do you learn to laugh again?

Busy young mum Gwen is at her wits end with her dad, Rhys, who’s hitting the whisky having lost his wife and son.

Bereaved and lonely, Rhys reluctantly joins his local Men’s Shed.

Experienced Shedders, Dai, Ioan and Charlie, with difficult stories of their own, show Rhys the ropes…woodworking, garden gnomes, and where the teabags live…

Our acclaimed new chamber opera, Shoulder to Shoulder, explores the issue of loneliness and isolation. Shoulder to Shoulder was developed through our partnership with the charity Men’s Sheds Cymru.

Shoulder To Shoulder is inspired by the moving, uplifting, and laugh-out stories of members of Men’s Sheds Cymru.  The charity supports isolated men by creating warm and welcoming spaces where Shedders build friendships, enjoy hobbies, and learn new skills. And drink tea.

Swansea City Opera collected Shedders’ stories of life’s ups and downs. Librettist Brendan Wheatley of Swansea City Opera created the story of a group of Shedders, and Lenny Sayers (BBC National Orchestra of Wales) set the story to music.  The result is a new opera – Shoulder to Shoulder.

Shoulder to Shoulder is a powerful, uplifting exploration and often funny story of men overcoming isolation through their friendships made in their local Shed.

And a garden gnome becomes part of the story…

Shoulder to Shoulder’s ensemble features Wales-based professional singers and musicians, many of whom sing and play in major opera houses, companies, and orchestras, including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Welsh National Opera, English National Opera; Opera North; Scottish Opera, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Soprano Jessica Robinson, who plays the role of Gwen, represented Wales in this year’s prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. As a finalist, Jess was the first Welsh finalist in over 20 years and follows in the footsteps of the like of the internationally renowned Welsh singer Sir Bryn Terfel.

30 minutes before each performance during our November 2023 tour, there will be a 30-minute talk from Swansea City Opera’s Artistic Director Brendan Wheatley on how Shoulder to Shoulder was developed.

Working with local choirs. 

Shoulder to Shoulder will feature members of the following choirs during the tour. Brecon Singers will appear at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon on Saturday 11 November. Haverfordwest Operatic Society will perform at Bethesda Baptist Church, Neyland on Wednesday 15 November, Llanhilleth Institute, Abertillery on Thursday 23 November, and at YMa Pontypridd on Saturday 18 November. Llysfaen Singers and Canton Chorus will perform at Cardiff’s TramShed on Tuesday 21 November and Memorial Hall, Lisvane on Saturday 25 November.

The development of Shoulder to Shoulder with Men’s Sheds Cymru.

Swansea City Opera’s aim is always to make opera accessible, and the partnership with Men’s Sheds Cymru brought large numbers of new audiences to opera.

“I went to the opera with slight misgivings.  Came back a convert!”

Loneliness is an epidemic; it increases with age and disproportionally affects men. Men’s Shed Cymru is a unique organization that supports older men experiencing loneliness by creating warm and welcoming spaces where they can learn new skills, build friendships, and make new beginnings.   Men’s Shed Cymru is part of a worldwide movement founded in Australia that aims to alleviate social isolation, predominantly among older men, through social activities.

Besides being socially isolated, some ‘Shedders’ have faced challenging life events such as physical and mental illness, bereavement, bankruptcy, and redundancy.

Librettist Brendan Wheatley rooted Shoulder to Shoulder in the stories of ‘Shedders’, which he gathered through interviews in 2020 – 2021, which included periods of the lockdowns in Wales.

By listening to stories and sharing the laughter of ‘Shedders’, Brendan crafted the story and libretto of Shoulder to Shoulder. The composer and clarinetist Lenny Sayers, whose music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, and BBC Radio Scotland, wrote the score.

In 2022, Shoulder to Shoulder toured a mix of professional venues, including Torch Theatre, Milton Haven and Ucheldre Arts Centre in Anglesey as well as community venues.

In some locations, the tour was accompanied by workshops in music and singing, sometimes taking singing and music-making to some Sheds for the very first time. Again, we worked with local choirs who accompanied singers on stage.

You can discover more about the making of Shoulder to Shoulder in an hour-long conversation between Brendan Wheatley and Robert Visintainer, Project Manager, Men’s Sheds Cymru.

Shoulder to Shoulder has been supported by Arts Council Wales’ Cultural Recovery Fund,
Arts Council Wales project funding, the National Lottery Community Fund, Tŷ Cerdd, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Arts Council Wales Noson Allan/Night Out, the Friends of Swansea City Opera, The Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Charity and Local Giving ‘Magic Little Grants’.

Artwork by Sean Slater.
Photographs by Guy Harrop

Cast & Biographies

Click on our cast members to find out more

  • Rhys - Dyfed Wyn Evans - baritone

    Dyfed Wyn Evans - baritone

    Rhys

    Dyfed was born in Cardiff and spent his childhood tearing between carol concerts, choir rehearsals and eisteddfodau. He moved to Manchester to study singing and opera at the RNCM where he won numerous scholarships and prizes including a Peter Moores Foundation Scholarship to enable him to study opera at the Vienna Conservatoire.

    After graduating, he continued his European Odyssey for a decade, moving between countries and working for many of the European Opera Houses and festivals.
    In 2004 he married the mezzo soprano Carolyn Jackson and they moved to a village outside Cardiff. He now tries to be at home for his two young boys as much as possible, mixing his opera work for the WNO with a busy concert schedule. He enjoys running opera workshops and community singing projects in South Wales and beyond and is also in demand as a choral conductor and tutor.

  • Ioan - Robyn Lyn Evans - tenor

    Robyn Lyn Evans - tenor

    Ioan

    Robyn Lyn Evans is mid Wales born and bred and now resides in Machynlleth. He graduated from Trinity College Carmarthen where he was awarded the Stuart Burrows bursary and from the Royal College of Music, London.

    Robyn began his singing career at a young age in the Eisteddfod competitions of Wales and highlights include International Young Singer of the Year Llangollen, Osborne Roberts Memorial Prize and the David Ellis Memorial Prize.

    Operatic rôles include Rodolfo (La Bohème), Cavaradossi (Tosca), Don José (Carmen), Alfredo (La Traviata), Il Duca (Rigoletto), Macduff (Macbeth), Lensky (Eugene Onegin), Ismaele (Nabucco), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Pinkerton (Madam Butterfly), Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), Fenton (Falstaff) and Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore) for British national and touring companies. He can be frequently heard on the concert platform with countless performances from the oratorio repertoire and has released two solo records: ROBYN LYN…tenor and Robyn Lyn Evans Tenor Ah! mes amis.

  • Gwen - Jessica Robinson - soprano

    Jessica Robinson - soprano

    Gwen

    Welsh Soprano Jessica Robinson graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama gaining a distinction in MA Opera Performance.

    During her time at the RWCMD, Jessica also gained a first class honours undergraduate degree along with the Aneurin Davies memorial award, The Mansel Thomas prize, The Margaret Tann Award, the Elias Soprano award and was the 2016 Prince of Wales Scholar.

    She regularly appears in concerts all over the UK. Internationally, Jessica has performed in New York, China, Switzerland, Brussels and Italy. Concert highlights include performing with the CBSO in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’ for Radio 3, Soloist at the Royal Albert Hall, and performing for HRH The Prince of Wales and guests at Buckingham Palace.

    Operatic engagements include Countess Marriage of Figaro, Lady Billows Albert Herring and Fox Cunning little Vixen (RWCMD) Spirit Dido and Aeneus (Opera’r Ddraig) Nora Riders to the Sea (Bute Park Opera) Worker/Semi Chorus Gair ar Gnawd (Welsh National Opera/S4C), Rose, Lakmé, Rosina, The Barber of Seville and Despina, Cosi fan Tutte (Swansea City Opera) Heavenly voice, Don Carlo and Tetska, Jenufa (Grange Park Opera).

    We are delighted that Jess is a BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2022 finalist.

     

    www.jessicamrobinson.co.uk

  • Dai - Aled Hall - tenor

    Aled Hall - tenor

    Dai

    Hall’s highlights both in the UK and abroad have included Pang Turandot, Spoletta Tosca, the Dancing Master Manon Lescaut, and the Abbé Andrea Chénier (Royal Opera House); Valzacchi Der Rosenkavalier (Royal Swedish Opera & Opera North); Don Curzio Le nozze di Figaro (Aix-en-Provence, Tokyo, Baden Baden); Mr. Upfold Albert Herring (Salzburger Landestheater); Lo Zio Vezinet Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, Ippia Saffo, and Danilowitz L’Etoile du Nord (Wexford Festival Opera); Don Basilio/Don Curzio, Beadle Bamford, Monostatos, Scaramuccio, and Remendado (Welsh National Opera); Dr Caius Falstaff, Spoletta Tosca, Matteo Borsa Rigoletto and Almeric Iolanta (Scottish Opera); Don Basilio, Bardolpho and Frisellino Le Pescatrici (Garsington Opera); Maintop Billy Budd and Gherardo Gianni Schicchi (Opera North); Tinca and Gherardo Il Trittico, Flaminio L’amore dei tre Re, Chekalinsky The Queen of Spades, Isèpo La Gioconda, Almeric Iolanta, Lord Cecil Roberto Devereux, Trabuco La Forza del destino, Ser Toldo Berardengo Francesca da Rimini, Arturo Lucia di Lammermoor, Borsa, and Don Basilio/Don Curzio (Opera Holland Park); Gastone (English National Opera); The Duke of Dunstable Patience (English Touring Opera); Messenger Aida (Bergen National Opera), and the role of Charles James Fox in the world premiere of Georgiana (Buxton International Festival).

    On the concert platform Hall’s highlights include Carmina Burana with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall; Facio in Offenbach’s Fantasio with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Ebbone in Mercadante’s I Normanni a Parigi with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Osburgo in Bellini’s La Straniera with London Philharmonic Orchestra all for Opera Rara at the Royal Festival Hall, London; Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall conducted by Sir David Willcocks; a British Tour of Messiah by Candlelight for Raymond Gubbay Limited; Mozart Requiem with the London Mozart Players at the Fishguard International Festival; tenor soloist in the first London performance of Daniel Jones’ oratorio St. Peter; Spoletta Tosca in the Welsh Proms at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff; and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Janácek’s Diary of the one who Disappeared at Wexford International Festival.

    Future engagements see Hall return to the Royal Opera House, Scottish Opera, and English National Opera.

  • Charlie - Wyn Pencarreg - bass baritone

    Wyn Pencarreg - bass baritone

    Charlie

     

    Welsh baritone Wyn Pencarreg studied at the Royal Northern College of Music gaining many prizes and scholarships including awards from the Countess of Munster Trust, the Peter Moores Foundation and the Wolfson Foundation. He was also a winner of the Erich Vietheer Memorial Award from Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

    Operatic roles include Alcindoro La bohème, Padre Sansón The Exterminating Angel and Flemish Deputy Don Carlos (The Royal Opera); Le Sire de Béthune Les vêpres siciliennes, Sir Walter Raleigh Roberto Devereux, Alcade La forza del destino (Welsh National Opera); Cuno Der Freischütz (OAE, conducted by Sir Mark Elder); Surin The Queen of Spades (English National Opera); Sharpless Madama Butterfly (Royal Albert Hall); Donner Das Rheingold (Longborough Festival Opera); and Music Master Ariadne auf Naxos (West Green House). He has also performed many roles for companies including Opera North, Glyndebourne, Grange Park Opera, Opéra de Monte-Carlo and English Touring Opera. World premières include Papin Babette’s Feast (Royal Opera House) and Lalchand The Firework-Maker’s Daughter (The Opera Group).

    Concerts appearances include Messiah (Ulster Orchestra); Voice of Neptune Idomeneo (Hallé Orchestra); Hermann Ortel Meistersinger (BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) and Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem and Walton Belshazzar’s Feast at the St Albans Festival.

  • Musical Director - John Beswick

    John Beswick

    Musical Director

    John was organ scholar of Hertford College, Oxford before postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music (repetiteur) and The Royal College of Music (conducting). He has worked on the music staff for Icelandic National Opera and Grange Park Opera, and has conducted for companies including Pimlico Opera, London City Opera and Swansea City Opera. He has conducted many shows, including Les Miserables (West End), Miss Saigon (UK Tour), Avenue Q (West End) and Damon Albarn’s opera Monkey: Journey to the West (Monkeys’ World at the O2); and has also played keyboards on a great many others including Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde and The Full Monty. John has also worked on many youth music theatre shows and student productions at home and abroad, and has clocked up almost 6 months ‘inside’ having thrice been Musical Director for Pimlico Opera’s prison projects. Currently he is Musical Director for Swansea City Opera and Principal Conductor of Redhill Sinfonia.

  • Composer - Lenny Sayers

    Lenny Sayers

    Composer

    Born in 1977 and originally from Keighley, West Yorkshire, Lenny has lived in Cardiff since 2011 when he joined the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as their Principal Bass Clarinet. He has twice been selected as a composer for Composition: Wales and has had four works performed in the BBC NOW Family Concerts. As a composer Lenny has enjoyed some long-term collaborations, with the Scottish based ensemble ‘Daniel’s Beard’, and more recently the South Wales theatre company Hummadruz. In 2020 two of his arrangements, one for all the clarinettists of the BBC orchestras and the other for the oboes, were featured in the BBC Single Instrumental Sessions. In the same year his arrangement of ‘Men of Harlech’, featuring Sir Bryn Terfel, was broadcast on the BBC Wales News for Welsh Heroes Day. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Radio Scotland.

  • Librettist - Brendan Wheatley

    Brendan Wheatley

    Librettist

    Brendan Wheatley was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a three-year scholarship on the performers course. Another scholarship awarded to him at the end of this course enabled him to attend the Opera Course for a further year but this was cut short when he auditioned for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and was immediately offered a contract.
    Brendan sang for three seasons with Glyndebourne, making his debut as The Keeper of the Madhouse in the internationally acclaimed production of Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress, designed by David Hockney. After leaving Glyndebourne, Brendan pursued his career as a freelance singer working with many companies both in Britain and abroad, and has now sung many major roles – from Don Giovanni to The Flying Dutchman – he also created the role of Figaro in the world premiere of Giles Swayne’s Le Nozze di Cherubino. His concert and oratorio work has taken him to such prestigious places as The South Bank, Royal Albert Hall, Huddersfield Town Hall and many cathedrals and churches throughout Britain. In 1989 he founded the touring company Opera Box with his partner Bridgett Gill and in 2004 the company received funding from the City and County of Swansea, and became Swansea City Opera. Over the years Brendan has directed and designed many operas for the company, and has assisted in translations of several operas, but Shoulder to Shoulder will be his first complete libretto.

     

Audience Reviews

Audience Reviews

2023 TOUR

Theatr Brycheiniog 11/11/23

“Really loved the show in Brecon last night – fantastic performances from cast, musicians and chorus. Great set too. A must see show.”

“Brendan’s talk was witty, engaging and informative. The show was beautifully put together with a great cast delivering wonderful music and libretto. Thank you for a fantastic evening.”

“Enjoyed very much. It was promoting Men’s Sheds which is very worthwhile and much needed. I love opera and enjoy live theatre”

Baptist Church Neyland 15/11/23

“This is absolutely fantastic, the story and everything about it. It is what opera should really be about. It should have major tour.”

“You have to find funding for this, it has to tour to other places and be international, because it has relevance. I saw this production last year and had to come back and see it again.”

Little Theatre Rhyl 17/11/23

“Brilliant and original. Excellent!!!”

“Also heard feature on Today Radio 4 programme. Found it very informative and wonderful performance: such a good production highlighting an important issue and problem”

Fantastic story, really well told, great music, thank you all.

More comprehensible than lots of operas. Loved the music, especially bits of well known themes woven in.

Great story, fabulous acting and singing. Very entertaining if a little sad at times.

Moving story, wonderful singing and music.

Enjoyed the music and performance. Good balance of pathos and humour, reflecting the work on Men’s Sheds.

Enjoyed very much. The music, the plot, the process of creating the libretto from interviews, the work done in Men’s Shed, excellent performance by singers and musicians, the accessibility.

The whole thing was so wonderful (smiley face)

Very interesting that an opera has been produced about a recent innovation. Excellently performed, very enjoyable, also interesting story line. Well done.

Didn’t know really what to expect, but fantastic quality of performance, really engaging characters, heartwarming and ear worm tunes to take home.

YMa Pontypridd 18/11/23

Brilliant performance!

Music and story line wonderful, entertaining, funny and also sad. Music and singing excellent, thank you.

Very well done.

Great music, singing and production.

I found genuinely touching, moving and enjoyable

It was musically great, both moving and funny

It was great to hear a modern applicable opera.

Raised issues that are not normally talked about and the support that is available.

Enjoyed it enormously!!! It was brilliant!!

The chat was really informative in setting the scene for what the opera is about. Thoroughly enjoyed the music and the opportunity to see a modern opera.

Intimate venue, really relatable.

We enjoyed the show for many reasons, but it was well written, both music and libretto. However the performances of the cast, delivered a complex story with passion which was extremely poignant and entertaining.

Excellent show and cast. Men’s Sheds is a fantastic support for our local community and the show presented the resource wonderfully. Well done everyone!

Very entertaining.

Show was fabulous

We are great fans, we loved the performance.

Absolutely loved your opera Shoulder to Shoulder which we saw at YMa this evening! which was the perfect venue for it. Moved to tears within the first 15 minutes! You captured the mens sheds movement beautifully with humour and sadness and portrayed just how important creativity and companionship is to overcoming loneliness and isolation. Well done all. we loved it xx

Excellent, enjoyed very much.

TramSHed 21/11/23

Brilliant lyrics and music, very funny too!

Fabulous performances.

The explanation in the chat was very informative, and the show itself made me aware of this problem.

The chat was very informative and I was pleased to have some prior knowledge. I LOVED the opera – all characters were believable and so good. The whole thing was a very enjoyable experience. Thank you.

Great cast, great music.

Great cast and a feel good factor show. Excellent!

A story with feeling and expressed with such joy and feeling.

Chat was really interesting and informative and gave context to the show itself – very worthwhile. The opera was emotional and thought provoking and real life, but at times funny. Excellent and well produced – loved the music too.

Interesting to hear how the opera came about. Ensemble pieces and libretto were on occasion drowned out by the drums or music. Great vocals, laugh aloud moments, moving.

Very good performance, exceeded expectations. I came to support my husband in percussion.

Really enjoyed the theme, great way of presenting a different opera. Important messages delivered in a different setting. Loved the informality and seating arrangement. Fab to see top artistes and involving local choir and percussion etc. Didn’t think I needed the pre-chat but glad I did. Many thanks.

Loved the informality and the messages behind the story. Important message presented in a different way. Welsh singer, Jess was amazing. I would definitely come to something like this again.

Powerful and positive storyline. Great performances that made you empathise with the characters. Brilliant score. Tunes to hum on the way home.

Really enjoyed the very poignant story line, couple with moving music. Great show. Thanks.

Just fabulous, inspirational, full of talent. Thank you (heart)

Excellent musicians, great diction, fantastic story, fun!

It was superb! Stellar cast (smiley face kiss kiss)

Jolly good all round.

I thought it was very moving and inspiring, you should travel the show to a wider audience.

The chat was excellent. Particularly interesting to hear from the composer discuss the different themes. The opera so emotional, I laughed and I cried. And then I won the raffle! What’s not to love?!

So powerful. Music and story are great and what an advert for Sheds. Great performance, well done.

Fun music and a wonderful topic.

Musicians very enjoyable to listen to, especially the vibraphone. Unfortunately the balance was a bit off because there was no pit. The drum kit was very loud.

It was great to have an opera that was accessible to a total beginner. It has made me consider attending an opera in the future. I really enjoyed the experience.

Thoroughly enjoyed the performance – whilst I have been to opera occasionally, I don’t know much about this sort of performance, but really enjoyed both the music itself, the story, the singing and the performance of the band and choir as well.

Fantastic singing, excellent harmony, lovely happy evening!

A wonderful evening recently at the TramShed. Congratulations to Swansea CIty Opera for staging Shoulder to Shoulder, an opera on the unlikely theme of men’s sheds. Fantastic, jazzy, bluesy music by Lenny Sayers, emotional, heartwarming, funny libretto by Brendan Wheatley, with brilliant playing by a small ensemble and outstanding singing from Jessica Robinson, Robyn Lyn Evans, Dyfed Wyn Evans, Wyn Pencarreg and Aled Hall. More of this please!

I loved the show – I found it very moving and I was impressed by the quality of the singing. The characters were very credible on the whole.

I loved the premise of the show and think it’s such an engaging and important topic to make work about. The music and singing was heartwarming and moving. Thoroughly enjoyed!!!

Llanhilleth Institute, Abertillery 23/11/23

The singing and the voices were so emotional in both being very moving and joyful at the same time. Thank you so much.

Great singers – great story – inspirational message.

Very meaningful.

Excellent cast and musicians, emotive, funny and all round excellent.

Very heartfelt performance and I extremely enjoyed every minute from the performance to the choir and the orchestra.

Never been to an opera before. Brilliant show. No negatives.

It was pretty amazing and a very different production.

Very beautifully done.

Amazing performance, lots of themes to explore. Encouraging expression from men among each other. I will definitely search out more opera. Loved the play; acting too. One thing I noted it was a little too long.

Loved seeing opera in this special venue. Amazing atmosphere. Wonderful show. It needs to be seen more widely.

It is not for me.

Lisvane Memorial Hall 25/11/23

Could identify with the stories from Lisvane Men’s Shed, via my husband. Excellent singing and acting, good to see local coir and Men’s Shed participants.

I thoroughly enjoyed it – exceeded expectations. Particularly liked seeing an opera sung in a Welsh accent and about everyday experiences – totally relatable.

The performance reflected the ethos of the Men’s Shed.

Very moving.

Wonderful music, so clever with melody and sounds!

Never been to an opera before. Excellent!!!

Brilliant performance from the cast. Also all the performers, choir etc.

Excellent performance – singers, production, band.

It was very good.

It did exactly what an opera should do, a massive range of emotions coupled with talented singers and musicians.

Great show, fabulous venue, just right!

I found the orchestra hindered my ability to hear the words of the singers. All the singers were excellent.

Wonderful to see pocket opera in a community space, involving the community.

Top quality performers, musicians (the band) and a great story about a brilliant initiative.

Lovely relaxed vibe – GREAT performances. Men’s mental health SO often NOT talked about. I LOVE you all for what you are doing (heart) thank you (kiss).

Enjoyed it very much. It was easy to understand and very emotional at times. It emphasised the importance of Men’s Sheds.

Never been to an opera before. The performers were excellent – so talented. The singing was wonderful. The story was very touching and emotional and made me think about my own family. The words were very authentic and I loved how Welsh it felt. Very relatable. The music was also quite moving. There were some funny parts too. Altogether it was a really enjoyable show and not what I was expecting. A really great way to present a very important issue. Thank you x

Great performance.

I enjoyed the wonderful singing and seeing others in the village. Having loads of chats.

Very emotional, brought back memories but wonderful to know that Men’s Sheds are available to one and all.

Enjoyed the show, but some parts very sad, although all’s well that ends well.

Enjoyed 100%! I laughed and cried, exactly what an opera should do! BRAVO!

Fablas!!

Very professional – a rare treat for the Memorial Hall – thanks to all concerned.

It really was an amazingly professional performance at the highest level that covered the ethos behind men’s sheds, and the combatting of isolation, loneliness and depression through camaraderie, friendship and company, through boys in a shed.

Incredible emotions expressed by the audience. (Heart)

Absolutely incredible night !

What a performance! Outstanding!

“I cried, I laughed and I cried. Exactly what I (as a man) was not supposed to do.”

 

2022 TOUR

Acapela Studio – world premiere

” Great show which certainly evoked the essence of Men’s Sheds. Quality singing & music with a fun element which lightened the mood.”

“Bravo! A unique subject for an opera, so real and convincing, the singing and production was first class. I laughed and cried. I’ve seen the good that comes from Men’s Sheds, from observing men who have benefitted from Lisvane Men’s Shed.”

“This is simply brilliant in every department”

“The opera was just superb in every way – such an original subject, brilliantly realised through a delightful score and libretto sensitively fluctuating between side-splitting comical to deeply-felt poignancy, all of which to me, perfectly captured the essence of the Men’s Shed movement, uplifting and inspirational. The studio venue and ‘cabaret’ style seating added to the overall effectiveness of the performance, so intimately drawing you into the lives being portrayed. And finally – the quality of singing, players, choir and performance and production could not be bettered anywhere.”

“Brilliant singing, acting and playing. Music and composition have a wonderful variety. The whole production should appeal to those with broad tastes – certainly not just your traditional opera audience.”

“Excellent – universal issues addressed”

“Very accessible subject matter and musical content. Great performance – should be an easy way for those not familiar with opera. Highly enjoyable. Well done all!”

It was a privilege to be at the premiere of such a fresh & lively piece of theatre. Full of energy, pathos & damned good singing! Lots of messages to provoke one’s thoughts about loneliness, depression, caring. Well done all!!

The show: lively, very good acting, subject matter – The Shed – relevant and real, and very entertaining!

Upper Chapel Village Hall

“Enjoyed the music, the mix of styles. Enjoyed the stories, especially the song about the gnomes.”

“The singing and diction were excellent, I loved the way the music fitted so well with the singing, and enhanced the emotion”

“The story line was brilliant, a subject that is just not spoken about. Tissues should be supplied on each chair, I laughed and cried through the whole thing. Every part of this performance was excellent and the fact they had to sing, act and play instruments (hammers and nails etc) love it, would go and see it again.”

“superb. Such a clever way of shining a light on modern day issues through the medium of opera.”

“What a privilege to have the opportunity to see this cleverly written modern-day opera delivered to our doorstep by the finest of Welsh voices telling the story of Men’s Sheds”

“Well done Jess Robinson. It was a good night, powerful story and very well presented. We were so lucky to have such amazing singers performing on our doorstep.”.

“The venue and performance were very good. Really great to haev such quality in rural areas isolated from the city venues.”

Clydach Community Centre

Brilliant!

Enjoyed it immensely

Very topical subject for today’s world

FABULOUS. WELL DONE ALL. We thought the show was easy to follow, quite a tearjerker but also extremely humourous as well. Fabulous cast & orchestra. Certainly made you think of what people actually go through.

Great to support the Shed organisation. A wonderful performance – so moving. Accessible music and a witty script. Superb voices and well acted. Well done SCO on a really worthwhile project. Bravo!

The performance was outstanding and far better than my expectations

Congratulations on a wonderful production – uplifting, poignant, a truly magnificent show from start to finish – pure joy. Many thanks, and not forgetting the wonderful orchestra and choristers, and a fab musical score.

Fab production – poignant and funny. Congratulations

It was excellent!! and sooooo true to life on your own!! Thanks

Very well performed, addressed the issue of mental health in a sensitive but enjoyable way. Excellent

Very professional show! Amazing value!

Never expected the subject to be so emotive or so suitable for opera. Brilliant!

The singing and music were outstanding.

Really enjoyed the show. Fantastic. Very professional performances by everyone. Very emotional at times.

Music brought the hair on your arms straight, also brough tears to the eyes and brought back memories of lost time?

I am already a member of the Clydach Men’s Shed. So I wanted to see how this opera was put together and I was delighted. They have it spot on, wonderful acting, singing, to a great story – Men’s Shed!!

I loved the energy of the cast, the quality of the singing, and the concept of bringing lonely men – & women – together for companionship and to make or repair something useful. Not your usual opera – but a welcome departure from tradition.

Excellent music, script and cast. The spectrum of emotions went beyond colours painted by any other opera. It is rare for an opera to hold the attention throughout without a lull in the performance – this is one of the rare operas that captivates from start to end.

Lovely, a great balance of light and dark in the story line. The choir amongst the audience gave it a warm feeling. Also enjoyed the location, different and at the heart of a community.

Very interested in the concept of Men’s Shed and impressed how well this was interpreted. Excellent music and cast. Loved the chorus and orchestra. Original & moving.

Excellent idea making opera more accessible and taking to the heart of communities. It tackles issues of men’s mental health – such an important thing to discuss. Congratulations to all. Diolch!

Really good show. Portrayed men and Sheds very well.

The show was amazing and the backing singers were amazing. Singing all together was fantastic

Torch Theatre Milford Haven

Absolutely brilliant. Masterpiece. More please

I cried for the Father/Daughter story, so true and we would be nowhere without our daughters. They are the making of us as compassionate and loving men xxxx

We saw Shoulder to Shoulder at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, about 20 miles each way from our home. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance and loved having the mini-orchestra in the room. The subject was important, particularly as it is often under-reported, and the music and lyrics told a tale perfectly. Having seen a Men’s Shed near Aberdeen recently I had looked up the movement already. Well done on a contemporary opera on a contemporary theme. We are regular opera goers and listeners.

Borth Community Hall 

So emotionally true. From very young to very old this is a real situation every day. This should be shown world wide, bring this to all generations that help is always available. Just find a Men’s Shed or a woman’s shed. Thank you xx

Very good publicity for the great idea of Men’s Sheds!

Very emotional performance. Great for this important charity to be brought to the forefront through opera.

Had never seen a contemporary opera before. Completely unexpected, poignant balanced with humour. Light touch for a difficult subject.

Fab to see something like this in our village.

I thought it was excellent – great we have a man’s shed starting this week in Borth

Never seen opera before, but they told the story clearly and with humour to keep me interested, excellent performers.

Gave me hope, made me cry, wonderful performance. Thank you

Good fun and very fine performance. Lots of laughs & emotion

Oh the show is wonderful! I’m in floods of tears, very emotional – Thank you so much – there should be tissues on the door – Thank you

It is a long time since I enjoyed myself so much.

Amazing. Emotional. Superb production.

It was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

A great show, really made me think.

It was a very professional and lively performance.

I enjoyed the evening & the instrumental accompaniment very much – lovely voices and a good combination – even with the rain doubling up the percussion.

First class artistes

Very relevant to every community and a topic that needs more airtime.

The singing was excellent and the whole ambiance great, apart from the rain on the roof!

An innovative theme, Variety of mood in the music. Realistic dialogue. Excellent solo voices.

I really enjoyed the performance. Thank you so much

Good way to get the message out to the public

I don’t know how other venues fared, but there was a certain intimacy between cast & audience that I thought worked really well. This, for your part, is not something to be overlooked in future venue selection – so come again!

I enjoyed the singing, everyone had lovely voices.

It was a great evening and made opera seem more accessible. I could not always hear the words, because from where we were sitting, the music dominated.
Altogether it was well written and a moving story, the music was light-hearted and fun to listen to. The audience responded well and it was worth coming out on a wet evening to see this opera.

An incredibly outstanding performance. The story brought out a profound tearful response. The event which was well supported by the local community, will boast the setting up of a Men’s Shed at Borth.

The band was too loud, but the characters were superb.

So close to my heart, wonderful. I cried, laughed, felt sad and happy!

Amusing, funny, very relevant to a lot of people. thank you very much.

I thought the subject was wonderful. Very contemporary music and superb performances. Another tour please. Thank you very much!

A fascinating and exciting show, everyone’s interest is held throughout – no weak spot

Ucheldre Centre

I went to the Opera with slight misgivings. Came back a convert. Absolutely brilliant. I was thinking it might be one of those politically correct things. I worried for nothing. The script was perfectly to the aims of what I perceive Men’s Sheds to be about. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Opera was brilliant. It was very moving in parts. In fact I’m glad the room was dark in the audience part because it hid the tears rolling down my cheeks a couple of times!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The idea of a Men’s Shed opera is brilliant. 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
  • Swansea City Opera, Bridgett and Brendan have been great. They have met ‘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 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
  • "Bravo! A unique subject for an opera, so real and convincing, the singing and production was first class. I laughed and cried. I've seen the good that comes from Men's Sheds, from observing men who have benefitted from Lisvane Men's Shed."

    A member of Lisvane Shed
  • I went to the Opera with slight misgivings. Came back a convert. Absolutely brilliant. I was thinking it might be one of those politically correct things. I worried for nothing. The script was perfectly to the aims of what I perceive Men’s Sheds to be about. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Member of an Anglesey Shed
  • The Opera was brilliant. It was very moving in parts. In fact I’m glad the room was dark in the audience part because it hid the tears rolling down my cheeks a couple of times!

    Member of an Anglesey Shed