North Wales International Music Festival to Present World Premiere of ‘Gelert’

By Logan Martell

On September 24, 2022, the North Wales International Music Festival will present the world premiere of “Gelert,” a new opera by royal composer Paul Mealor and eminent poet Dr. Grahame Davies, based on one of Wales best known legends.

The premiere will be held at St. Asaph Cathedral, and features soloists Trystan Lewis, Dafydd Jones, and Lisa Dafydd; as well as the NEW Voices community chorus, Kana Chamber Choir, and accompanied by resident orchestra NEW Sinfonia. The opera is dedicated to festival artistic director Ann Atkinson, who commissioned the work as part of the event’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

There will be two performances in Welsh and English, respectively. The first will perform at 2:30 pm, with the English performance taking place 7:30 pm that same evening.

“When people see the word opera they think of Tosca or something like that,” said Professor Mealor in an official press statement on the premiere of the world. “This is nothing like it. It’s very melodic and it’s not going to shock anyone with weird sound effects. It’s not high opera at all, it’s more like ‘Les Misérables’ or ‘Miss Saigon.’ People going to it expecting to be entertained will be, I think. It is a community opera so anyone can sing the parts and Gelert can be performed by any amateur group.

“It will be performed in both Welsh and then, later, in English which is fabulous. I speak a bit of Welsh but I’m not fluent in it but it’s Grahame’s first language and he’s highlighted the way that both languages lilt. I think this is the first time this has ever been done. In the past I think operas were translated into Welsh or from Welsh into English later. I don’t think an opera has ever been written with performances in both languages in mind before.”