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Shoulder to Shoulder

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

Composer Caradog Williams, Librettist Brendan Wheatley

Current Tour Dates

Swansea City Opera has been fortunate to receive a grant from ACW towards a pilot for a new work created in conjunction with the organisation Men’s Sheds Cymru.

Mens Sheds Cymru | The Official home of Mens Sheds in Wales

The organisation provides help, support and a place to meet for socially disadvantaged and lonely men (and some women). At the Sheds they make or grow things and sell the items and produce to support the Shed, or give them away to people in need in the community. The strength of the organisation is that it provides a purpose and focus for lonely peoples’ lives, many of whom have been through desperate times with depression, bereavement, illness, accidents, bankruptcy and redundancy, and all of whom still want to play an active role in society and seek friendship and comradeship.

The new work is called Shoulder to Shoulder and we have now completed the pilot piece of about 15 minutes of music

This is a link to the Act 1 duet between Rhys the father, and Gwen his daughter who is visiting her father at home.

OPERA SWANSEA act 1.mp3 (

and this is a link to the Act 2 rap, a trio when Rhys, Dai and Ioan are working in the Shed

OPERA SWANSEA act 2_3.mp3 (

We have visited a number of Sheds, interviewed the members and from their stories created the libretto which reflects not only the struggles they have faced, but also the strength and humour upon which they draw to overcome their problems.

We are already applying and searching for funding to complete the work in 2021 and have so far been fortunate to receive a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund towards the outreach programme with more Sheds in Wales.

Artwork by Sean Slater


Cast & Biographies

Click on our cast members to find out more

  • Rhys - Dyfed Wyn Evans - baritone

    Dyfed Wyn Evans - baritone


    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.

  • Dai - Robyn Lyn Evans - tenor

    Robyn Lyn Evans - tenor


    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


    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).

  • Ioan - Trystan Llyr Griffiths - tenor

    Trystan Llyr Griffiths - tenor


    Welsh tenor Trystan Llyr Griffiths is quickly making his mark on the International Opera Stage, having worked with Opéra National deLorraine, Zürich Opera, Scottish Opera, Opera North and Welsh National Opera.
    Trystan initially studied for a degree in Theatre, Music and Media at Trinity University College, Carmarthen, subsequently completing a Master of Arts Vocal degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London and a postgraduate course in Opera Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, where he was taught by Adrian Thompson and Ingrid Surgenor. He completed his training at the National Opera Studio in London in 2015, where his studies were generously supported by Welsh National Opera. He received a scholarship to attend the 2015 Mozart Residency at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and joined the International Opera Studio in Zürich for the
    2016/17 season.
    He made his professional operatic début in 2015 as Ferrando in Scottish Opera’s touring production of Cosi fan tutte. His various roles whilst in Zürich include Beppe in I Pagliacci; Lehrer in Lady Macbeth von Mzensk; Servo d’Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera; 1st Brabantischer Edler in Lohengrin for Zürich Opera. He also performed the roles of Gonzalve in L’heure espagnole and La théière in L’enfant et les sortilèges with the International Opera Studio at Theater Winterthur, Zürich. He has subsequently made his company and role début for Welsh National Opera as Beppe in I Pagliacci; covered the role of Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore for Opera North and made his house and role début as Kudryas in Katya Kabanova at Opéra National de Lorraine. Other roles include Carlos in a recording of Donizetti’s Le Duc d’Albe with the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder for Opera Rara; Tamino in The Magic Flute, Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia and Bill in Jonathan Dove’s Flight for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
    Engagements this season include Oronte in Handel’s Alcina for Opera National de Lorraine. Last season he made his role and company debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni for Garsington Opera and also performed the roles of Kudrjash in Kátya Kabanová with Scottish Opera and 2nd Priest and 1st Armed Man in Die Zauberflöte at Festival d’Aix en Provence and Dutch National Opera.
    Trystan has won numerous awards, including the Second Prize in the prestigious Paris Opera Competition at the Théâtre des ChampsÉlysées in Paris. In 2012, Trystan was named the ‘Voice of Wales’ by Decca Records after a search of over 600 singers in a series televised by S4C. He is also one of the first recipients of a Study Award from the Bryn Terfel Foundation. Other prizes and awards include the 2014 Ian Stoutzker Prize; 2014 Bruce Millar Gulliver Singing Prize, 2013 RWCMD HRH Prince of Wales Scholarship, The 2013 Dunraven Welsh Young Singer of the Year Prize, The 2012 MOCSA Young Welsh Singer of the Year Award, The 2012 Sybil Tutton Award
    and the 2011 W. Towyn Roberts Scholarship at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
    Trystan is also in great demand as a concert artist. Concert highlights to date include his BBC Proms début in the 2016 Last Night of the Proms singing Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, conducted by Sakari Oramo; a concert at the Hay on Wye Festival with Sir Bryn Terfel; a concert with Sir Bryn Terfel at the Royal Festival Hall for Raymond Gubbay Ltd; the roles of Shepherd and Melot in a concert performance of Act 3 Tristan und Isolde with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko; recitals at St Martin-in-the-Fields and Cardiff Music Festival; the 2017 Huawei Winter Concert with Katherine Jenkins and the Royal Philharmonic
    Orchestra at London’s Royal Festival Hall and Mozart Requiem with the Orchestre Prométhée at Festival de Lacoste.
    His self-titled debut album was released on the SAIN label in 2015. Trystan also features as the tenor soloist in a recording of O Holy Night with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Classic FM’s ‘Nations Favourite Carols Album’, 2017.

  • Composer & Pianist - Caradog Williams

    Caradog Williams

    Composer & Pianist

    Caradog Williams is a vocal coach at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and a freelance pianist based in Cardiff.  Whilst a pupil at Ysgol Gyfun y Strade, Llanelli, he studied piano with D. Hugh Jones FRCO, and following a degree in Music at Oxford University, studied Piano Accompaniment at the Royal College of Music under Roger Vignoles and John Blakely, where he was an Associated Board Scholar.

    Caradog’s work in Cardiff has included being a repetiteur for Welsh National Opera, the Wales International Academy of Voice and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he has worked with leading singing teachers and conductors in the field of opera including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Richard Bonynge, Dennis O’Neill and Carlo Rizzi.

    On the concert platform Caradog has partnered Sir Bryn Terfel, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Rebecca Evans, Elin Manahan Thomas and Sir Willard White, and regularly appears alongside John Owen Jones, Only Men Aloud and the Three Welsh Tenors, with whom he has toured three times to North America and on whose two albums Caradog features as composer and arranger.

    Caradog was the official accompanist for the last four massed choral festivals of the Welsh Association of Male Voice Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall, and has toured with the Association to Russia and Eastern Europe.

  • Librettist - Brendan Wheatley

    Brendan Wheatley


    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.


  • Clarinet - Rhys Taylor

    Rhys Taylor


    Originally from Aberystwyth, Rhys started playing the clarinet aged eight. Growing up,
    he gained much experience in classical and jazz and in 2005 he graduated from the Royal
    Northern College of Music with First Class Honours.
    Since then, Rhys has performed concertos by Mozart, Weber, Copland and Artie Shaw
    and at the age of 18 he won the 18-25 Open Instrumental competition at the Llangollen
    International Eisteddfod. In September 2006, Rhys won the ‘Bryn Terfel Urdd
    Scholarship Award’. He is also a member of Gorsedd y Beirdd (the ‘Bards Circle’ of
    Rhys has a wide experience in musical direction and pit playing, including shows
    such as ‘West Side Story’, ‘Matilda’, ‘Top Hat’ and ‘Miss Saigon’.
    Rhys also does a lot of composing and arranging for concerts, TV, radio and
    theatre and in 2018 Rhys composed the music for the musical ‘Nyrsys’ (Theatre
    Genedlaethol Cymru / Welsh National Theatre)

  • 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) 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