Opera singer and broadcaster Wynne Evans has been revealed as an ambassador for a new dementia choir from Welsh National Opera (WNO).
The Welsh tenor is well known to audiences as Gio Compario in a series of Go.Compare adverts. He also won the 2023 series of Celebrity Masterchef.
Evans has a close association with WNO, where he has performed a number of main roles in some of the world’s best-known operas. These include Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, (The Elixir of Love, 1832), the Duke in Rigoletto (1851) and Alfredo in La traviata (The Fallen Woman, 1853), both by Verdi, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème (The Bohemians, 1896) and Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute, 1791).
He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 2009. He has also performed with English National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera and Opera Holland Park. He starred in the 25the anniversary production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall and and also sang ‘Glory Glory Tottenham Hotspur’ at the last game at the club’s famous White Hart Lane stadium.
WNO’s Cradle choirs programme provides community singing groups for people living with dementia and offers families and carers the opportunity to come together to enjoy the benefits of song on a weekly basis. The first community choir was launched in Swansea in spring 2019.
The programme later expanded to choirs in Milford Haven and Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. In September 2023 Evans helped WNO to launch a new Cradle choir in Llanelli in partnership with Carmarthenshire Theatres.
The Cradle project uses the skills of WNO’s professional singers and musicians to create an environment to help people living with dementia to stay engaged and interested in their surroundings. It also allows their carers and loved ones to find relief from the day-to-day challenges associated with the illness.
Evans will play a key role in raising awareness for this vital dementia support service. He will also be an advocate for Cradle’s work in Welsh communities, which includes year-round associated projects with primary and secondary school children.
‘‘I am delighted to be involved with this project,” he commented. “I have always been passionate about community singing and throughout my career I have seen first hand the benefits that music and song can have on people’s mental and physical health.
“Cradle provides such a worthwhile service to people living with dementia but also for their families and carers, so I really am thrilled to become an ambassador for this work.”
Vocal leader David Fortey and pianist Mark Jones will lead sessions at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli. During these one-hour sessions, participants will sing a great range of music, from pop to folk and hymns to arias. Each session starts with interactive warm-up activities that engage both mind and voice. This is followed by social opportunities for participants to get to know each other over tea, coffee and biscuits.
WNO producer Jennifer Hill said: “We’re delighted to be able to pilot a new Cradle choir in Llanelli. Members of our existing choirs in Milford Haven and Llandeilo tell us how much they value the companionship and fun they have singing together on a weekly basis and so being able to further extend the reach to another area and a more urban setting is very exciting.
“We’ve been very lucky to have support on the ground from fantastic people and organisations who are embedded in their communities and hope to be able to add to their amazing work.”
Opera singer, broadcaster and star of the Go.Compare ads, Welsh tenor Wynne Evans has been appointed ambassador of a new dementia choir from Welsh National Opera.