19 May – 17 June 2017
Music Theatre Wales and Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru
We’ll go up, you and me, Together, hand in hand, No fear, no regrets.
Y Tŵr is an intimate story of love and life from the UK’s leading new opera company and the Welsh-language national theatre, based on the work of one of Wales’ most important playwrights.
Exploring the extremes of emotion experienced by two lovers over the course of a lifetime together, Gwenlyn Parry’s acclaimed play is brought to new life in the form of a touching and lyrical new opera by composer Guto Puw and singer-songwriter-playwright, Gwyneth Glyn.
Sung in Welsh with English surtitles.
Based on the play by
Duration: 130m (20m interval)
A Music Theatre Wales & Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru production originally presented by Sherman Theatre and the Vale of Glamorgan Festival 2017
Pre and Post Show Talks
Pre-show: Sherman Theatre, 19/05/17, 18:30
Chaired by Dr Rhiannon Williams
Panel – Arwel Gruffydd, Guto Puw, Ffion Haf, Gwyneth Glyn
Pre-show: Sherman Theatre 20/05/17, 18:30
Chaired by Geraint Lewis
Panel – Guto Puw, Ffion Haf
Post-show: Aberystwyth Arts Centre 23/05/17
Chaired by Dr Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones
Panel – Arwel Gruffydd, Ffion Haf, Roger Owen
Pre-show: Pontio 25/06/17
Chaired by Elen ap Robert
Panel – Gwyneth Glyn, Guto Puw, John Ogwen, Maureen Rhys
Pre-show: Theatr Clwyd 05/06/17
Chaired by Eifion Lloyd Jones
Panel – Gwyneth Glyn, Ffion Haf
Full dates below.
Guto Puw, Composer
Guto Pryderi Puw studied Music at Bangor University under composers John Pickard, Pwyll ap Siôn and Andrew Lewis, gaining his MMus in 1996 and later his PhD in Composition in 2002. He was appointed as a full member of staff in 2006, lecturing mainly on Composition and Contemporary Music, and appointed as Head of Composition in 2015. He first came to prominence after winning the Composer’s Medal at the National Eisteddfod in 1995 and again for the second time in 1997. His music has been featured in many festivals around the UK and broadcast regularly on radio and television. In February 2006 he became the inaugural Resident Composer with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with his Concerto for Oboe winning the Listeners’ Award category at the British Composer Awards in 2007 and ‘. . . onyt agoraf y drws . . .’ (‘unless I open the door’) being premiered at the Proms during the same year. Y Tŵr (‘The Tower’), based on the play by Gwenlyn Parry and with libretto by Gwyneth Glyn, will be his first chamber opera. Future commissions include a second violin concerto, a string quartet and a large orchestral work. A selection of his recent orchestral works was released on the CD Reservoirs by Signum Records in 2014. He also received the Sir Geraint Evans Award from the Welsh Music Guild for ‘his significant contribution to Welsh music’ in 2014. For many years Puw has been active in the promotion of new music in north Wales through his involvement with the Bangor Music Festival, being its founding member and Artistic Director since 2000.
Gwyneth Glyn, Librettist
Gwyneth Glyn is a poet, writer and singer-songwriter who lives in Cricieth, north Wales. She was Welsh Poet Laureate for Children 2006–2007 and has written extensively for theatre in Wales, including pieces for Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, Bara Caws, Y Frân Wen, De Oscuro and Music Theatre Wales’s production of Stori’r Milwr/The Soldier’s Tale. She also writes regularly for the Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm. She has performed internationally at WOMEX, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington DC, and at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City. In 2015 she supported Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita on his UK tour, and recently collaborated with musicians from Mumbai on an album called Ghazalaw, which weaves Welsh folk songs with Indian Ghazal. Gwyneth is currently recording her next solo album.
Richard Baker, Conductor
Richard Baker is a leading figure on the British contemporary music scene as one of the foremost composer-conductors of his generation. He studied composition in the Netherlands with Louis Andriessen, and in London with John Woolrich, and first drew significant attention with two early works – Los Rábanos (1998) and Learning to Fly (1999). Hommagesquisse, typically characterful and inventive, was commissioned by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group – with whom Richard also has a strong relationship as conductor – to mark Pierre Boulez’s visit to that city in 2008. In 2010 Baker’s music was featured in the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series, and the same year he wrote Gaming, a substantial chamber work for cello, marimba and piano, to a commission from the New York-based trio Real Quiet. His second BCMG commission, The Tyranny of Fun, was premiered in February 2013, and led Andrew Clements of The Guardian to comment on ‘how assured Baker’s ensemble writing is, and how vividly it fleshes out its structural frame’. The work was short-listed for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award last year. Three chamber pieces had their premieres in 2015/16 – works for solo piano, solo harp, and a string trio. He also wrote a new work for BCMG to conclude their season. As a conductor, Richard works regularly with the leading composers of our day. In autumn 2012, he led English Touring Opera’s admired production of Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse and, in spring 2013, conducted the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe’s double-bill of Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth and Gerald Barry’s The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit. The 2012/13 season also saw his debuts with both the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, adding to existing relationships with ensembles including the London Sinfonietta, BCMG, Britten Sinfonia, Composers Ensemble and Apartment House. In spring 2014, he conducted a double-bill of new works by Francisco Coll and Elspeth Brooke at Aldeburgh, the Linbury Studio (Royal Opera House) and Opera North. (‘the wonderfully assured conducting of Richard Baker,’ Guy Damman, The Times). He was immediately invited back for the Spring 2015 production of The Virtues of Things by Matt Rogers, and invited again last season to conduct the enormously successful world premiere of 4:48 Psychosis by Phil Venables, based on the play by Sarah Kane.
Michael McCarthy, Artistic Director
Michael was a co-founder of Music Theatre Wales in 1988, and as Artistic Director he wants the company to stay at the forefront of new opera in Wales, the UK and beyond. Alongside MTW, from 1998–2012 he was Artistic Director of Operatoriet, the contemporary opera studio for Norway, and from 2007–2012 he was Dramaturg for FIVE:15 – Operas Made in Scotland for Scottish Opera. In 2012 he led the Opera Creation Academy at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. In the 1980s he was fortunate to work as revival director for The Fires of London, the company run by Peter Maxwell Davies. He has staged over 40 contemporary operas and worked on more than 100 new works. Other productions include large-scale outdoor stagings of Tosca and Nabucco, and productions of La Traviata, Cosi fan Tutte, Il Re Pastore, Fidelio and Don Giovanni. Also, Cinderella by Peter Maxwell Davies for WNO and S4C Television, The Lighthouse for BBC2 TV and The Forbidden Hymn – a community opera in the South Wales Valleys. Future plans include the USA premiere of The Trial by Philip Glass in St Louis, following performances in Scotland, and future productions for Music Theatre Wales. In January 2015 he was awarded Best Director at the Wales Theatre Awards for his world premiere production of The Trial by Philip Glass for Music Theatre Wales. His production of Greek won Outstanding Achievement in Opera at the TMA Awards. He was honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in 2016.
Samal Blak, Designer
Born in the Faroe Islands, Samal trained at the Central St. Martins College of Art & Design, and won the 2009 Linbury Prize for Stage Design. Samal’s work was selected to represent the UK as part of the ‘Make/Believe: UK Design for Performance 2011–2015’ exhibition at the V&A, previously at the Prague Quadrennial. Productions include: Hamlet (Gothenburg Opera); Otello (nominated for the 2010 RPS music award for Opera and Music Theatre), Khovanshchina (Winner – Best New Production, International Opera Awards 2015) and Life is a Dream – world premiere (Birmingham Opera Company); Falstaff and Fidelio (Bucharest National Opera); The Devil Inside (nominated for Outstanding Achievement in opera at the UK Theatre Awards 2016), In the Locked Room and Ghost Patrol (winner, South Bank Sky Arts Award 2013) – world premieres (Scottish Opera and Music Theatre Wales); Les Mamelles de Tiresias (De Nationale Opera Amsterdam, La Monnaie Brussels, Aldeburgh Music, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence); Tosca (Opera Ostfold, Norway); Eugene Onegin (Theater an der Wien-in der kammeroper); Giasone, Agrippina, Simon Boccanegra, The Siege of Calais, Cosi Fan Tutte (ETO); L’Incoronazione di Poppea (RCM, ETO); Macbeth (Guerilla Theatre Seoul); How to be Another Woman (Gate Theatre, London). In 2007 he was awarded the Thorvald Poulsen av Steinum award.
Ace McCarron, Lighting Designer
Ace McCarron is a freelance lighting designer based in Cardiff. Through work with companies such as The Fires of London, Music Theatre Wales and the Operastudio Vlaanderen, he has designed lighting for many contemporary operas. He is also known for work with several new-writing companies, and with children’s and black theatre companies. He has been a member of Howard Barker’s company, The Wrestling School, since 1989 and lit their eight-hour-long production The Ecstatic Bible at the Adelaide Festival. Recent operatic engagements include: The Devil Inside and In the Locked Room/Ghost Patrol – world premieres and co-productions between Music Theatre Wales and Scottish Opera, The Trial by Philip Glass – world premiere, Greek (last seen at the Tongyeong Music Festival), Eight Songs for a Mad King, The Killing Flower (Sciarrino’s Luci mie traditrici), The Golden Dragon (Music Theatre Wales); Elle est Moi et Tote Mich (Operastudio Vlaanderen); Orlando Paladino (Wiener Kammeroper); The Fairy Queen (Istanbul Music Festival); Waar is Mijn Zeil? (Muziektheater Transparent). With composer Guy Harries, he won the inaugural Flourish award for an adaptation of Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka.
Caryl Hughes, The Woman
Caryl is from the Llŷn Peninsula in north Wales, and graduated with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in the summer of 2007. Operatic and Musical Theatre roles include Maria/West Side Story and Cosette/Les Miserables for Pimlico Opera, Olga/Eugene Onegin and First Nymph/Rusalka for Grange Park Opera, Angela in the world premiere of Nicola LeFanu’s Dream Hunter, Madama Brillante/The Italian Girl in London and Giacinta/La Finta Semplice for Bampton Opera, Orlovsky/Die Fledermaus and cover Jane Seymour/Anna Bolena for Welsh National Opera, Tiny/Paul Bunyan, Papagena/The Magic Flute and Rita Rat/Fantastic Mr Fox for English Touring Opera, Cenerentola for Iford Arts Festival, Sonya/Sonya’s Story for the Tête-à-Tête Festival, Cherubino/Le nozze di Figaro (cover) and Dorabella/Cosi Fan Tutte (cover) for Scottish Opera, Sifare/Mitridate (cover) and Orlovsky/Die Fledermaus for Welsh National Opera, Yniold/Pelléas et Mélisande for Independent Opera and Flora (world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Enchanted Pig) for the Young Vic Theatre and The Opera Group. Caryl has performed in concert with Bryn Terfel at Grange Park Opera, the Hay Festival and for Raymond Gubbay, and with Sir Thomas Allen at the Three Choirs Festival. Her debut disc of Britten’s Cabaret Songs with Malcolm Martineau has been released by ONYX, having performed them at the 2009 Aix-en-Provence and Aldeburgh Festivals. Recently, Caryl performed the role of Dorabella and Cherubino for Diva Opera on tour and in South Africa.
Gwion Thomas, The Man
Gwion was born in Gorseinon, near Swansea, and is a nephew of the famous Welsh/American singer Thomas Llyfnwy Thomas. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and is a busy opera and concert soloist. With Welsh National Opera he has sung Figaro in The Barber of Seville and roles in Tornrak by Metcalf. With Scottish Opera he has sung Maitra in Vir’s Snatched by the Gods and Godwin in Beamish’s Monster. His numerous roles with Kent Opera include creating the role of Chao Lin in Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera and the title role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. He has a particular association with Music Theatre Wales, singing many roles including Blazes in Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse, Mr Punch in Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy and, most recently, Dad in their award-winning production of Turnage’s Greek and Huld in Philip Glass’s The Trial. Abroad he has sung Blazes with Transparent (Antwerp), Eddy in Greek in its Dutch premiere with Taller Amsterdam, and A Water Bird Talk with Opera Theatre Company in Dublin. Recent concert work includes Elijah in Mold and Schubert’s Winterreise in Loughborough. He lives in Northamptonshire, and in addition to his work as a singer Gwion also teaches at Birmingham Conservatoire.
By Guto Puw
Libreto by Gwyneth Glyn
Based on the play by Gwenlyn Parry
Female: Caryl Hughes
Male: Gwion Thomas
Conductor: Richard Baker
Director: Michael McCarthy
Designer: Samal Blak
Lighting Designer: Ace McCarron