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World premiere in Montgomeryshire

Created on 29/10/2017 @ 11:47
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We don’t get many world premieres in Montgomeryshire, but Mid Wales Opera is doing just that.

It will be unveiling a brand new orchestration of William Walton’s classic comedy The Bear with three intimate performances in Llandinam, Llanfair Caereinion and Abermule before they head off on tour across Wales in November.

MWO’s Music Director, Jonathan Lyness, has created a new version of this hilarious 20th century comedy for just three singers and five musicians.

The production has been specially designed for the ‘SmallStages’ tour – visiting small theatres, churches and community centres - and the three Montgomeryshire shows are presented in association with Hafren, Newtown at Llandinam Village Hall on November 2nd, Llanfair Caereinon Institute on November 3rd and in Abermule Community Centre on November 4th.

Tickets are available from Hafren’s box office on 01686 614555 or email: Tickets are £10 and students £8.

Composed in 1967 and based on Anton Chekhov’s play of the same name, The Bear tells the tale of the widow, Mme Popova, unendingly mourning the death of her husband until the arrival of the rough-hewn yet charismatic land agent, Smirnov (the “bear” of the title) demanding payment of debts. Passions run high and their sparring culminates in a duel during which the two appear to have fallen unexpectedly in love.

With world class singers and musicians, including Adam Green as Smirnov, Carolyn Dobbin as Popova and Matthew Buswell as Luka,  The Bear is  full of entertainment, parody and great tunes and is ideal for opera first timers, and a real treat for those who know this rarely performed piece well.

Jonathan Lyness told us: “The piece is scored for a small chamber orchestra and my target was to arrange the score for about five musicians, to accompany a cast of three singers. My approach was not ‘which instruments can I take away’; instead, I thought ‘which instruments most characterise the piece - how does Walton create instrumental sentiment and character to enhance the work’s impact and comedy.

“The first instrument that sprang from the full score was, unexpectedly, the bassoon. The widow Madam Popova is in mourning and Walton plays on this using a gently falling bassoon melody. In the closing pages, a string instrument (either violin, viola or cello) would deliver the burgeoning romanticism between Popova and Smirnov (the ‘bear’ of the title).”

The 16 venue tour is part of the R17 commemorations across Wales to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution – and the second half of the performance continues MWO’s Russian theme. Join the cast, musicians and directors of MWO for an informal reimagining of Pushkin’s great party scene from Eugene Onegin and its 'entertainments'.

Tatyana's Party Pieces is a mix of music, poetry and prose, some familiar, some less so as a prelude to MWO’s performances of Tchaikovsky's great opera Eugene Onegin, touring in spring 2018.

A brilliant introduction for audiences new to opera and a fabulous opportunity for all music lovers to hear Walton’s classic comedy in its fiftieth anniversary year, this intimate production is designed to have the widest possible appeal and to fulfil MWO’s mission for keeping opera live and local across rural Wales.

MWO Small Stages is supported by the Ashley Family Foundation, Foyle Foundation and Arts Council of Wales. Performed by arrangement with Oxford University Press. For more information go to

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