Men’s Sheds the Opera!
(a project funded by Arts Council Wales)
In the July issue of your newsletter you may remember reading about Swansea City Opera asking you to get in touch and tell us your stories, so that we could create a pilot piece for the opera we are writing about Men’s Sheds Cymru and the great work it is doing
Well, we’ve completed the pilot and we are really pleased with it! The opera is called ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ and Brendan Wheatley who has written the libretto, and Caradog Williams the composer have done a great job. You can find out more and hear the two extracts we have completed on the Swansea City Opera website, www.swanseacityopera.com. On the home page just press the ‘ find out more’ link at the side of the lovely artwork that Sean Slater has created. The excerpts are very different in character, one is a duet between a daughter and her father before he joins a Shed, and the other is a rap between three men working in the Shed – great fun!
Shoulder to Shoulder Act 1
Shoulder to Shoulder Act 2
They were recorded at the Acapela Studios in Pentyrch, Cardiff, which is a converted chapel with fantastic acoustics. It was our first visit there and we loved the venue, not only is it a very friendly place but it has a real wood fired pizza oven and sells delicious pizzas before any concert! Covid willing, we have booked the studios to give an opera concert on 11th August and we hope some of you will come!
To write the libretto, we have interviewed many ‘shedders’ and heard some humourous, and some heart breaking, stories from people who have had ups and downs, but all of them have found strength and friendship from their pals in the Shed communities. Our aim is to spread the word about Men’s Sheds and encourage more people to join, so please help us!
Our next step is to find funding for the whole work and we have already had a grant from the Community Lottery Fund for visits to different Sheds to source more stories. Obviously live visits are difficult at the moment because of Covid, but we are very happy to receive emails or letters (our contact details are at the end of this article) or have a Zoom/Skype or telephone conversation. We realise some of your stories may be deeply personal and we will guarantee strict anonymity, with any of our conversations being treated in complete confidence should you wish to share them with us. However we will also need many positive stories as we want the performance to be an uplifting experience for both the audience and participants alike! We are sure you have many humourous anecdotes to tell us about your time at Men’s Sheds and the new friends you have made.
Over the years SCO has involved the community in many of our operas. We have rehearsed and coached amateur choirs some of whose members cannot read music and had no previous experience of opera or being on stage. Our final goal is to create an easily accessible opera involving amateur chorus along with professional singers and musicians. These community performances will tour to several venues including village halls across Wales. Anyone wishing to take part in the performance will be welcomed with open arms, either in the chorus (which we promise will not be hard to learn!) or as an extra on stage or even helping behind the scenes.
We are a very friendly company and hope those of you that love music will consider helping us. Please do get in touch and let us know, it will be fun to create something together and we look forward very much to working with you!
Brendan Wheatley & Bridgett Gill – SCO Artistic Directors