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Watch: Beautiful digital opera created by professional artists and neurodiverse young people

17 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Perthyn. Image: Music. Theatre. Wales.

Stephen Price

Music Theatre Wales has launched a beautiful digital opera created by professional artists and a group of young neurodiverse people.

The second ‘Future Directions Digital Opera’, titled ‘Perthyn’, which is the Welsh for ‘belong’, was created throughout 2023, in partnership with Hijinx Theatre.

Future Directions is a young people’s programme that explores how opera can become a powerfully expressive form for people of all backgrounds and identities.

Connecting with new audiences

Working in collaboration with professional artists, the young neurodiverse group worked together to devise and make a new opera, exploring their ideas, learning from and inspiring each other and the supporting artists.

The opera is a Music Theatre Wales (MTW) production and the creators hope it can connect with audiences who might not have considered opera as something that could be relevant to their lives.

For the project, Music Theatre Wales brought together theatre maker and dramaturg Jain Boon, music maker Mari Mathias, singer Llio Evans and film maker Gavin Porter alongside the young participants to create a new and original work in three movements.

The resulting piece is a beautiful opera in music, text, movement and film built entirely on the ideas of the participants, which carries a strong message from the young people.

‘I liked the games’

Following taster sessions at schools and young people’s groups and with Hijinx North and Hijinx Telemachus youth theatre groups, the young participants joined together for two 3-day residences, at Aberystwyth University in April and University of South Wales, The Atrium in Cardiff in August.

In between the residencies, the group gathered online to continue developing the ideas and structure of the piece.

They then went on to create their own story: devising its dramatic representation, creating the visual language, creating and performing in the music, and co-creating the filming to share a story they all wanted to tell.


MTW has a made a pledge: To be inspired and influenced by their work and by them as creative individuals.

After completing the project, one participant said: “I loved singing, voice and movement. It’s an amazing to see story, music, acting, film and animation all happening together.”

While another shared: “I enjoy playing with lights. I liked the games. I learned different skills with the camera.

Michael McCarthy, MTW Artistic Director said: “Music Theatre Wales is all about re-imagining opera and I can’t think of a better way of demonstrating this than our new digital opera Perthyn.

“Created by a neurodiverse group of young people working in collaboration with an outstanding team of artists, this new piece gives voice to the young people’s shared message about the power of belonging. It is a message we all need to hear, and to use the language of opera as storytelling in music to share it so potently and from such a personal place gives me hope that opera is an expressive form for everyone. I want to congratulate all the young creators and thank them for helping to show us the way forward.”


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