Migrations - not like other operas

16 June 2022

Welsh National Opera’s brand-new opera, Migrations, is not like any other opera. The libretto is by six different writers, telling six different interacting stories and it includes various elements from other artforms. Here we pick out some of them:

WNO is privileged to be joined by Bristol’s Renewal Choir Community Chorus for Migrations. The inclusion of a gospel choir performing in an opera is another ‘first’ for an opera. The combination of voices and musical styles, the sounds of traditional, harmony-rich, Christian music as performed by gospel choirs around the world and operatic voices raised alongside each other in the same performances will be something extraordinary and undoubtably affecting. 

Eric Ngalle Charles’ piece, Birds, is performed by a specially formed children’s chorus of 14, all aged between 10 and 14. Taking the part of the family of birds, accompanied by origami inspired figures, as we witness their annual migration, peppered with the usual childhood questions like ‘are we nearly there?’. Their tale is interspersed throughout the opera, operating almost as narrator. Listen to an excerpt from Birds.

Working alongside composer Will Todd, well-known Indian musician Jasdeep Singh Degun has provided additional sitar music (have a listen), ensuring a touch of authenticity as consultant on the inclusion of the Indian music within the opera. Leeds-born Jasdeep produces music steeped in the North Indian classical tradition but without shying away from other musical genres, and so his work on Migrations as on opera ties in with his personal work.

Drawing on his varied musical background, Will Todd’s musical score is infused with jazz influences and at times, a blues sound world is created. For those of you who came to our Summer 2021 performances of his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this will come as no surprise. For Migrations, expect a musical experience that melts from jazz to choral to symphonic and more - get a feel for his sound world, listen now.

Three Bollywood dancers stand in a line with their arms outstretched, making an optical illusion.

Dance is often featured in WNO productions and Migrations is no exception. Embracing a lighter tone, the second standalone piece within the opera – Shreya Sen-Handley’s This is the Life! –  features Bollywood dancing, in a dream sequence with all the pizzazz of a Bollywood production. There are also element of ballet throughout. Whether performed by guest artists as part of the ensemble, or the ‘birds’, dance is an important component of the opera.

If you haven’t experienced opera before, then maybe this is the one for you. With a contemporary storyline that resonates and familiar elements from other artforms, Migrations will be an impressive production unlike any other operas. Don’t miss out, book your seats now.