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In London with Music Theatre Wales

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Nicola Heywood Thomas Nicola Heywood Thomas | 15:38 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Last week I went to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. How grand! No, I wasn't in the huge red plush and gilt auditorium where tickets cost hundreds of pounds. I was in the smaller Linbury Studio Theatre where Music Theatre Wales were premièring their latest commissioned work, Letters of a Love Betrayed.

The company specialise in contemporary chamber opera - music drama, far more intimate than the huge spectacles normally associated with the word opera. Forget big, rousing choruses and foot tapping tunes, MTW are committed to the creation and production of new works for 21st century audiences.

So why's a Welsh company giving the first performance of this piece in London? The answer is that Music Theatre Wales work in partnership with the Royal Opera House and appear there regularly at the Linbury. There's a large and loyal London audience for this Welsh company and, as Deborah Bull, the Creative Director of ROH2 (what's been described as the "indie" arm of the Royal Opera House) told me MTW play an important part in the programme there.

But Music Theatre Wales are firmly based in Cardiff and are committed to performing new works right across Wales. The new opera by the Jamaican born composer Eleanor Alberga will be on at Cardiff Sherman Cymru on 20 October and at Clwyd Theatre Cymru and Aberystwyth Arts Centre later in the year.

It's based on a short story by Isabel Allende, adapted as a libretto by Donald Sturrock and is sung in English. If you've got pre-conceived ideas that opera isn't for you because it's too far- fetched and stagey, give this a go. It might just change your mind.

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