United Kingdom MTW Invites Composers to “Make an Aria”
Leading UK contemporary Opera Company, Music Theatre Wales, will begin its 25th Anniversary Year with Make an Aria, a public presentation and master class featuring their Patron, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – Master of the Queen’s Music – at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on March 14th at 6pm.
Make An Aria is part of Music Theatre Wales’ current composer and writer development programme and the focus of the company’s outreach work. It aims to help emerging composers and writers to broaden their experience of writing for opera. It also aspires to increase the audience for new opera through the presentation of public master classes from the leading opera composers of the day.
The scheme further builds on the formal partnership, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, between the opera company and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff which explores ways in which a specialist opera company and a conservatoire can work together to provide a range of activities that will provide professional development opportunities for students studying at the College.
Michael McCarthy, Artistic Director of Music Theatre Wales explains: “Our aim has always been to develop outreach work that would bring benefits not only to the participants and partner organisations involved, but to the company itself through an extended programme of discovering and nurturing new talent. We devised Make an Aria as a way of introducing post-graduate composers and writers to the process of writing opera by inviting them to write an aria that was part of an imaginary opera.”
He continues “For the last three months, five young composer-writer teams have been working with Music Theatre Wales. We brought together emerging talents from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, University of Glamorgan and Sherman Cymru in Cardiff and formed a series of composer/librettist partnerships. The scheme helps them discover what it might be like to write an opera, without having to embark on the daunting prospect of creating a complete work. They’ve been working together to write an aria – the heart and soul of any opera. In doing so they’ve had to consider all the ingredients they would need to embrace in writing a full length work – character, dramatic situation, emotional and psychological condition and story-line.”
Whilst the Make an Aria Master Class is of huge benefit to the participating young artists, audiences can also get a unique snapshot into the process and challenge of writing new opera.
“We know that audiences find this tantalising insight into ‘the process’ absolutely fascinating.” concludes Michael. “We recommend anyone who is interested in discovering more about the essential collaboration between composer and writer in the creation of new opera to come and find out more.”
The new arias will be performed for the first time in front of a public audience at the Master Class at the College on 14 March with professional singers and an accompanist. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, known as one of the foremost composers of this generation, will discuss each aria after it has been performed, looking at its strengths and weaknesses and suggesting different approaches. The discussion will also be joined by the company’s Artistic Directors, Michael McCarthy and Michael Rafferty.
Maxwell Davies’s music is well known for communicating directly and powerfully and his ground-breaking mini-opera Eight Songs for a Mad King will also be performed by Music Theatre Wales in the Dora Stoutzker Hall at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on Tuesday 26 March at 8pm as part of the company’s 25th Anniversary Season.
As a result of the achievements of Make an Aria in past years, the scheme has been repeated throughout the UK and will continue to be a part of Music Theatre Wales’ strategy for developing new talents and creating new repertoire in the future. Make an Aria is also planned to take place in Oxford during 2013.
For more details on the Make an Aria Master Class or on Music Theatre Wales’ 25th Anniversary Season visit www.musictheatrewales.org.uk