Cymru, coal and choral singing
The stars of the show are undoubtably the justly famed Welsh National Opera Chorus… who lend a distinctive emotional charge
Set in a 1950s Welsh Valleys’ community Blaze of Glory! follows the fortunes of a small group of miners who embark upon a musical escapade by reforming their Male Voice Choir to raise spirits following a mining disaster. Led by their heroic Chorus Master and supported by the strong-willed women who stand by them, the men embark on a series of adventures: they kidnap a yodeller, take part in the historic trans-Atlantic link-up with Paul Robeson and blaze a trail to the Eisteddfodau and beyond.
Blaze of Glory! celebrates the Land of Song and how community spirit can triumph over adversity. Traditional Welsh harmonies blend with the a cappella sounds of the 1950s, operetta, gospel and big band as our intrepid band of gleemen Lindy Hop their way to glory. Join our men in blazers, for a feel-good performance which will make your heart sing.
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WNO’s new productions and new commissions are supported by the John Ellerman Foundation. Supported by Colwinston Charitable Trust, The Gwendoline and Margaret Davies Charity and WNO New Commissions Syndicate. The Blaze of Glory! Male Voice Choir programme is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Cast & Creative
Blaze of Glory! is a celebration of Wales’s greatest commodity, the Male Voice Choir. Set in the 1950s it follows the fortunes of a group of miners who form a choir as a panacea to heal the trauma of a recent mining disaster.
Dafydd Pugh, pit foreman and former choir master, sits brooding in the social club. The atmosphere is grim as the consequences of a mining disaster in 1953 which diminished the men’s numbers, still resonate around the town. Emlyn, a young miner plucks up the courage to persuade Mr Pugh to start a Glee club, to lead the men in song as he had once done. After much resistance, Mr Pugh yields to the persuasion of both men and women and a new choir, or Glee is formed with Mr Pugh at the helm, and Miss Price as their accompanist. They agree to bend their efforts towards the local Eisteddfod and bid for glory.
On discovering the test piece is to be Ambroise Thomas’s Le Tyrol, they hit upon the idea of poaching Bryn Bevan, a brewer from Treorchy, who has recently spent time in Austria and has learnt the art of yodelling. With help of the women from the textile mill, they snatch Bryn from the clutches of their rival Treorchy choir, and then begin practising in earnest. Despite their best efforts, their subterfuge is exposed, and they suffer defeat.
Miss Price, now involved in an unlikely but passionate romance with Mr Pugh, refuses to let them give up. After success at the National Eisteddfod and now proudly wearing their bespoke blazers lovingly made by the textile factory women, they turn their attention to their next goal which will be the Miners’ Eisteddfod in Porthcawl. This event is doubly important as it is to be attended by none other than the great Paul Robeson - a musical icon for the choir and a champion of Welsh miners. The prospect is all more poignant for Anthony, a young African American who has settled in the town and is a pivotal member of the Glee.
As they prepare to enter the hall, disaster strikes. Emlyn, now their star tenor, hands in his resignation following an offer from the Covent Garden opera chorus and Mr Pugh receives notice that the pit is going to close. Everyone files into the hall to hear Paul Robeson’s transatlantic address.
In years to come, Miss Price steps into Mr Pugh's shoes and become the first woman to lead a male voice choir. At first, she refuses but then marshals her resources, rallies her troops and leads them to glory at the Chorus of Massed Voices in London.