The foyer of the Richard Burton Theatre, 6pm January 30 2014
Wales, unsurprising for a nation which has music deeply embedded in its DNA, has no less than three opera companies, varied, contrasting, each making a distinctive contribution to to the knowledge, understanding and experience of our rich art form - and all truly excellent.
They are the great Welsh National Opera under the leadership of David Pountney no less; Michael McCarthy's Music Theatre Wales whose wonderful production of Turnage's Greek we saw at the Linbury earlier in the season; and Mid Wales Opera, surging forward brilliantly, inspired by its quite new artistic director Nicholas Cleobury.
Mid Wales Opera opened its new production of Acis and Galatea yesterday evening at the Richard Burton Theatre of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and I was delighted to make the trip to Cardiff to see it. All being well this will be the beginning of a valuable relationship benefiting all concerned, not least the students for whom close up exposure to a working professional company is hugely valuable in their education and professional development.
And the Cardiff audience will be able to see the terrific work of this company which has a busy touring schedule around Wales and into England but has been rarely seen in the Welsh capital. The Richard Burton Theatre is a wonderful space, as is the whole expansion of the RWSMD, including a marvellous concert hall, dating from 2011. This place is really on the map now.
Acis is always a delight and is a perfect work for a small ensemble, for the size of forces employed by MWO. A handful of excellent young singers, the remarkable Brecon Baroque led by none other than Rachel Podger, one of our finest "early" musicians, and the musical direction of Nicholas Cleobury (who conducted Acis for us in Chicago more than a decade ago) - provided the perfect ingredients for Annilese Miskimmon's charming pastoral production, mirroring faithfully the spirit of Cannons 1718.
I got back after 1 am after a three hour train ride. But it was more than worth it. Thank you Wales - I will be back! I will have a quiet Friday but have a hyper active weekend about which more in due course.