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Multimillion-pound legacy supports talent development in opera and music in Wales

05 May 2023 4 minute read
Carys Davies. Photo Craig Fuller

A multimillion-pound legacy left by an opera-loving couple from Cardiff will provide long-term funding to support the training of singers and musicians in Wales.

The late Philippa and David Seligman were passionate supporters of the arts and the legacies exceeding £3 million pounds to be shared between the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) and Welsh National Opera will ensure the continuation and further development of projects they supported during their lives.

RWCMD’s David Seligman Opera School offers a fully integrated operatic training experience, with storytelling through music and drama at the heart of its personalised training.

Part of the legacy will be directly invested into productions, with hands-on industry experience and guidance from renowned opera practitioners from around the world.

New scholarships will also be created in the Seligman name for opera and other music disciplines.

Power of singing

RWCMD Director of Music, Tim Rhys-Evans said, “I had the very great pleasure of knowing David and Philippa for many years and saw first-hand their belief in young people and the power of singing to enrich young lives.

“Their passion for opera in particular was something incredibly dear to them, and the need for this artform to be made accessible and relevant to young people of every background was a major driving force behind their philanthropy.

“David knew the impact that legacies of any size can have, and now his exceptional gift will ensure that future generations of artists will continue to be supported for many years to come.

“Diolch and thank you. We will be forever grateful.”

David and Philippa in the Seligman Studio. At the RWCMD for the opening of the Seligman Studio, June 2011. Photo by Cardiff Boy 2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

WNO Youth Opera was established in the mid-1990s as a way for the WNO company to share opera with aspiring young singers.

It is an award-winning training programme for young people, aged from 10-25 years and its members gain a unique training experience from working with WNO’s orchestra, designers, stage managers and technicians.

The impact of the new legacy will enable WNO Youth Opera to present a showcase performance every year.

WNO Youth Opera producer, Paula Scott said: ‘We are incredibly grateful for this generous bequest. David and Philippa Seligman were passionate supporters of WNO Youth Opera, and we are delighted to be honouring them both by continuing our work with young artists.’

The legacy also allows for a continuation of a talent development pathway that has historically linked both WNO and RWCMD.

Numerous youth opera alumni have gone on to train at the college and subsequently return to WNO in a professional capacity.

Magic Flute

Most recently, Carys Davies, a previous member of WNO Youth Opera and current RWCMD student, performed in the WNO’s main scale production of The Magic Flute.

Carys said: ‘Singing with WNO Youth Opera was an invaluable experience and has influenced my training at the Royal Welsh College. My work with WNO has also given me an incredible insight into professional life after studying here at the Welsh conservatoire and has been an experience I will never forget.’

This year’s WNO Youth Opera showcase, The Pied Piper of Hamelin & The Crab That Played With The Sea, is being performed in the Weston Studio of Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 May.

Students of the David Seligman Opera School can next be seen performing Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel in the RWCMD’s Richard Burton Theatre from Saturday 1 to Wednesday 5 July.

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