The Welsh National Opera’s (WNO) Youth Opera groups have united in a special virtual performance of ‘I Shall Not Live in Vain’ by Ruth Morris Gray, from Emily Dickinson’s 19th-century poem ‘If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking’.

The national opera company’s Youth Opera comprises three groups based in South Wales, North Wales and Birmingham; they have never performed together in this way. Some 82 young people, aged between 6 and 18 years, took part in singing the song, the underlying message of which is helping others who may need your support.

“In many ways this could not have been possible in ordinary circumstances,” WNO said in a statement. “The necessity of rehearsing and performing online due to lockdown restrictions has created the opportunity to bring together all of the WNO Youth Opera groups from across the UK for the first time.”

Rehearsals started in August, with each of the singers taking part from their own homes using Zoom. Proceedings were directed by the five Regional Youth Opera leaders Dan Perkin and Sian Cameron (South Wales), Jenny Pearson (North Wales) and Suzie Purkis and Abigail Kelly (Birmingham).

Each of the youngsters recorded their own video and audio, which was then sent to Cardiff-based recording studio and music publisher Tŷ Cerdd to produce the final video. The film is available to view for free on WNO’s YouTube channel.

Youth Opera Producer Paula Scott commented: “The aim of this project was to offer all Youth Opera participants the opportunity to be part of a new creative learning experience. The participants had an opportunity to meet up and sing (virtually) alongside their friends on a regular basis once again, while working together on a really special project where all members cannot only perform together for the first time ever but also be showcased performing on video.

“They have all worked extremely hard, with the help and support of their families, learning new digital skills and adapting to a new way of learning and recording music and performing from home, which is not easy to achieve. They should all be extremely proud of what they have achieved through this challenging time.”

The WNO Youth Opera autumn term commenced in September, with weekly Zoom workshop sessions across all three regional groups. The opera company hopes that face-to-face rehearsals will commence in January 2021.



The Welsh National Opera’s three Youth Operas performed together for the first time ever for a very special recording of ‘I Shall Not Live in Vain’ by Ruth Morris Gray.