Fedora Prize-winning opera Denis & Katya will receive its UK premiere in Newport, Gwent, on 27 February, Music Theatre Wales has announced. The award-winning production will then go on to tour Mold, Aberystwyth, London and Cardiff throughout March.

This compelling documentary opera tells the real-life tragedy of 15-year-old Russian runaways Denis Muravyov and Katya Viasova, exploring the themes of forbidden love and how stories are shaped and shared in our age of 24/7 digital connection.

The story hit the headlines in November 2016 after the teenage lovers lived their final hours through the eyes of social media, engaging with online viewers as they filmed while in the midst of a standoff with Russian Special Forces, before being shot dead.

Written by composer Philip Venables and librettist Ted Huffman, the new work is a co-production between the UK’s leading contemporary opera company Music Theatre Wales, Opera Philadelphia and Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier. It received glowing reviews from US critics when it opened in Philadelphia in September 2019. Denis & Katya also received the Fedora Generali Award for Opera – a major prize awarded to innovative work created through international collaboration.

The creative team visited the teenagers’ hometown in Russia, interviewing local people who were affected by the tragedy, including a school friend, neighbour and teacher, who are all represented in the opera. The innovative production splices text, video, music and theatre and is scored for just four cellists and two singers, who deliver accounts from several different perspectives.

All performances will feature cellists from London Sinfonietta, Music Theatre Wales’s associate company. The two-person cast is formed of Australian mezzo-soprano Emily Edmonds and English baritone Johnny Herford. Video design is by Pierre Martin, with sound design realised by Sound Intermedia.

Michael McCarthy, Music Theatre Wales’s artistic director, commented: “Denis & Katya is about the way we live our lives in the here and now, through our screens and via social media, exploring the implications of these actions and our own participation in potentially tragic stories. Making this work hand-in-hand with Opera Philadelphia has already been hugely rewarding and I can’t wait to share it with audiences across Wales and in London.”

Denis & Katya will receive its UK premiere at The Riverfront in Newport on 27 February. The production will then tour to Theatr Clwyd, Mold, on 2 March, Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 3 March and Southbank Centre, London, on 13 and 14 March, followed by a performance in Cardiff at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama on 27 March. Tickets are on sale now.



New opera Denis & Katya explores our relationship with social media and how we live our lives online.