Cardiff-based Welsh National Opera (WNO) will move its programme of community engagement and development events and initiatives to live sessions from online activity only, the company has revealed.
Wales’s national opera company has a wide variety of community outreach and local events; however, the Covid-19 crisis forced the company to take these online. WNO will now be returning to in-person events when it is safe to do so over the coming months.
This includes continuing WNO’s activity in schools, its performances in hospitals and care homes and projects in partnership with Oasis Cardiff and Welsh Refugee Council. The company’s Cradle Choir for people living with dementia will also continue as part of the broader intergenerational Cradle project, bringing together children from schools in Milford Haven with local people living with the disease in creative activity culminating in summer 2022.
Other projects include a collaborative programme designed to meet the needs of long-Covid patients in Wales, supporting physical rehabilitation, restoring mental and emotional wellbeing and reducing anxiety. Singing has been proved to have a positive impact on wellbeing and the initiative will aim to achieve both mental and medical benefits for those taking part.
WNO will work with health boards across Wales, in partnership with English National Opera (ENO), to develop a programme that draws on the singing and breathing techniques used by professional opera singers to help reduce breathlessness and support participants to re-learn diaphragmatic breathing and equip them with the tools to continue this work at home. ENO launched its own award-winning ENO Breathe project in August last year.
Following a consultation with Fast Track Cymru and the Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru, WNO’s HIV Project will see the company partnering with Cardiff West Community High School to co-develop and pilot a new participatory workshop model which uses opera, music, creative writing and art to increase education and understanding of HIV among young people in Wales. The project will support the delivery of the new Welsh curriculum which places renewed focus on relationship and sexuality education (SRE).
WNO’s Talent Development Programme activity, which has been online during the past year, is also returning to live engagement. This project includes special development roles with the company including WNO Associate Artists Aaron O’Hare, Adam Gilbert and Isabelle Peters and Weston Jerwood Directing Fellow Gareth Chambers, as well as an associate conductor role in collaboration with the Donatella Flick-LSO Conducting Competition.
General Director Aidan Lang commented: “With the announcement by the Welsh government that live performance is now possible, it means we are delighted to be in a position to confirm details of plans to return to live performance and touring both in the short term and further into the future.
“While we have been able to continue to use digital platforms to continue to engage with our audiences and people in the community during the last year, something that we plan to continue, there is nothing like being able to experience live productions and continue our Programmes and Engagement activity in person. We are really looking forward to sharing the joy and experience of live opera once again.
“We have also been using this time to reflect on how we move forward into the future and how we can best work to further our activities in communities and make a difference to people’s lives through the power of opera. This will be a big part of our new plans as we move forward, as well as continuing with our large-scale Programme and Engagement work already in place.”
Welsh National Opera’s extensive community engagement programme is set to return to live events and activity over the coming months, including the company’s work in local schools.