A PEMBROKESHIRE village which staged its own locally written opera last year has now won over £9,600 funding for a new concert version of the work.
Llangwm’s WWI: a village opera, will now be re-worked as ‘A village at war’ the concert version, following a grant of £9,659 awarded to the Llangwm Local History society and Llangwm Community Centre to reformulate and stage the performance, which came from The Ministry of Defence Armed Forces Covenant, which part-funded last year’s opera.
The opera, which told the story of a young couple against the background of the Battle of the Somme, played to sell out audiences in Llangwm, Haverfordwest and Newport last November. Last year’s play saw two cheques for £1000, raised from the proceeds of ticket sales being presented during the Llangwm Carnival to Graham Johnson, poppy appeal organiser at the British Legion’s Haverfordwest branch, and June Rowlands from Pembrokeshire Dock, fundraising coordinator for Help the Heroes. Joining and performing in the new version will be three local choirs: Llangwm’s Village Voices, plus Cantabile and Tempus, the opera will also include members of the armed forces and their families.
Llangwm Local History Society’s Liz Rawlings welcomed the grant and sad: “It’s appropriate that an armed services charity is again helping us tell the story of the brave young men and their families back home who had to cope with the horrors of four years of war.” “I know that the cast of last year’s opera are looking forward to getting back together.” “It’s a great honour to be able to perform at such a prestigious event as the St David’s Festival.”
The Herald has been told the concert version, will include references to true stories as the opera did, and will follow two young brothers who lost their lives on the Western Front, while on a lighter note, the ‘butter war’ when Llangwm women back at home boycotted merchants who raised their prices. The original opera was written by Llangwm-based composer Sam Howley and librettist Peter George from Newport, winner of this year’s RS Thomas Festival poetry prize.
Peter commented: “I am very pleased to hear that grant aid has been awarded to a project which will involve so many in the community. “The challenge for me will be to convert the text of a full Opera into a ‘Concert Opera’ which can be performed by mixed choirs with soloists and a narrator without loss of the message and poignancy of the original. “I very much look forward to working again with Sam Howley in creating a work that will grab the public imagination and linger in the memory.”
The new, re-worked concert version will be staged as part of the St David’s Cathedral Music Festival on June 2, a festival which has brought classical music to the heart of West Wales for over 35 years.