Music Theatre Wales began life in Cardiff in 1988 and the first MTW production was typically inventive, setting Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Martyrdom of St Magnus in the graveyard of the Saxon church in the grounds of St Donats Castle. The company continues to break new ground in opera, presenting newly commissioned works, bringing new artists to the form and finding a new place for pieces already written which are either neglected or unseen in the UK.
Today, Music Theatre Wales is acknowledged as one of the UK’s leading contemporary opera companies, dedicated to performing masterpieces of the recent past and to commissioning new works from the very best composers and writers -operas which we hope will enter the future repertoire of opera companies around the world.
Since 1988 we have created almost 30 productions and presented 14 world premieres. We have an established programme to help nurture new opera composers and we have created productions with a wide range of partners including Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg, the Berlin Festival, Opera Vest in Norway, Banff Centre in Canada, Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon, Haarlem Theatre in The Netherlands, Treffpunkt in Stuttgart, Scottish Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
In 2002, Music Theatre Wales became the first Associate Company of the Royal Opera House. This partnership has given us a fabulous London home and opportunities to undertake projects we could not otherwise afford, through co-productions and co-commissions. In turn, we have brought contemporary opera of quality and artistic rigour into the very heart of the home of grand opera.
At the 2011 TMA Theatre Awards our production of Greek by Mark-Anthony Turnage won Outstanding Achievement in Opera against stiff competition from Opera North and Glyndebourne. The company has twice been short-listed for the Prudential Awards for “creativity, excellence, innovation and accessibility.” Lynne Plowman’s opera Gwyneth and the Green Knight which we commissioned won the British Composers Award and her second opera The House of the Gods, again commissioned by us, was also shortlisted for this award in 2007.
The company has been recorded on CD, broadcast on BBC radio and our work has been screened on BBC2. In 2009 the company worked for the first time in Welsh, commissioning a new performing version of The Soldier’s Tale –Stori’r Milwr.
Plans for 2012 include an autumn tour of two new operas by Huw Watkins and Stuart MacRae which will receive their world premieres at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2013, the company will give the UK premiere of Luci mie traditrici by Salvatore Sciarrino, while Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton are writing a new opera for us, based on Kafka’s The Trial, to be premiered at Covent Garden in 2014 in a co-commission and co-production with the Royal Opera House.