Last month, an audience was treated to a unique opera performance that involved language translation in its development.

On August 27th, the Opra Cymru company presented a 90-minute version of a French creation, which its producers had transformed into Welsh – with the assistance of language translators.

The spectacle was shown in Blaenau Ffestiniog as part of the Festival of Rain.

Commenting on his motivation for using language translation and bringing the musical phenomenon to the area, international opera director Patrick Young said: “I’ve been living in Wales for ten years and it struck me that there’s so much singing going on, but no one goes to the opera.”

He added: “They’ll sing Verdi at the drop of a hat, but don’t go to his operas.”

Mr Walsh also noted that there was no provision for people interested in hearing the art form through the medium of the Welsh language.

He went on to state: “It’s a strong tradition in Europe to perform opera in the language of the audience – far stronger than the current practice which is to perform it in the language it’s written in.”

For this reason, he decided to use language translators to showcase the offering in a new and more topical light.

In 2008, he and his wife Sioned set up Opra Cymru. On the organisation’s website, it states it “brings together the best of Wales’ musical and artistic talents in the performance of opera to the highest artistic standard”.

Mr Walsh went on to say that Robin Llywelyn did a “marvellous” translation of nessun dorma and pointed out a neighbour of his had said to him that, until hearing that version of the famous song, he had no idea what it meant.

Opra Cymru uses young Welsh singers to perform its creations and it hopes to stage a full-length opera at the Pontrhydfendigaid Pavilion next year.

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