Explore the world of opera with Welsh National Opera’s new podcast.
Our podcast has two series; one in English – The O Word - and one in Welsh – Cipolwg.
Both series delve into the wider work and reach of WNO and highlight how opera connects to our lives today. Whether on stage or in the community, discover the inner-workings of a touring company and how opera can transform lives.
The O Word
Both series are available to download from a number of podcast directories, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Simply search for ‘The O Word’, ‘Cipolwg’ or ‘Welsh National Opera’ on your preferred podcast application and remember to subscribe.
The O Word
The O Word
Join journalist and opera enthusiast Gareth Jones as he explores the world of opera, both on stage and off. With guests ranging from internationally-renowned musicians to leading figures in arts, culture and beyond, Gareth tries to answer some of opera’s burning questions.
Episode 1: What does it take to be an opera singer?
Gareth sits down with tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones to discover what it takes – physically, mentally and spiritually – to be an opera singer in 2020. At a time when many singers face isolation away from the stage, how important is it to stay positive and active? What methods can be used to protect and maintain a voice during lockdown?
Episode 2: Is there a future for opera?
Does opera have an image problem? Gareth looks to the future of opera with Aidan Lang (General Director, WNO) and James Clutton (Director, Opera Holland Park. Gareth is also joined by leading figures in youth opera; Dan Perkin and Sian Cameron, to discuss the intricacies of training opera’s next generation.
Episode 3: How do you write a new opera? – The Music
Gareth investigates how contemporary writers approach creating an opera from scratch. As opera is a medium known for reviving and reinventing established works, what are the essential components needed for a brand-new opera to be representative of today? Celebrated composer Will Todd explains his process and performs extracts from his new opera Migrations.
Episode 4: How do you write a new opera? – The Libretto
Gareth meets writers Shreya Sen-Handley, Edson Burton and Miles Chambers, to discover more about their unique approaches to writing a libretto for the first time. Acclaimed librettist Emma Jenkins, known for works such as In Parenthesis, also joins Gareth to discuss her writing process.
Episode 5: Is singing good for you?
Gareth talks to WNO producer Jennifer Hill about the formation of Welsh National Opera’s Cradle Choir, a project which brings together 96 primary school children and people living with dementia for a shared choral experience. He also its down with Celi Barberia from the Sing Up Foundation to discuss the wider implications and health benefits of singing. Can singing really improve your physical and mental health?
Episode 6: What does it take to be an opera singer?
Gareth returns to question ‘What does it take to be an opera singer?’, this time sitting down with Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams. Together they discuss Mary Elizabeth’s career to date and consider what lies ahead for the opera world in challenging and uncertain times.
Episode 7: Why do we need a critical voice?
Gareth invites leading arts critics and correspondents for a roundtable discussion about the importance of a critical voice in opera and live performance. Joining Gareth is The Telegraph’s Rupert
Christiansen; journalist and composer Steph Power; regional journalist and blogger Diane Parkes and BBC Radio 3's Nicola Heywood-Thomas.
Episode 8: Why do we need conductors?
Gareth meets WNO Female Conductor in Residence Tianyi Lu to find out more about the role of a conductor in opera. Gareth also sits down with British conductor Alexander Joel and David Adams from WNO Orchestra to discuss the challenges they face during a live performance.
Episode 9: Is opera relevant to young audiences?
Gareth interviews young opera singers and enthusiasts to establish whether opera is relevant to their generation. Featuring baritone John Ieuan Jones, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama student Rosie Rowell and Max Catalano from Cardiff University’s Operatic Society.
Episode 10: What does it take to be a conductor?
Gareth meets Welsh National Opera’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus to discuss his career to date and to discover what it takes to work as a conductor on an international scale.
Episode 11: How important is philanthropy for opera?
Gareth meets with donors and fundraisers to discuss how philanthropy ensures the future survival of opera. Delving beyond works seen on stage, Gareth investigates the different ways in which donations can bring the art of opera to schools, care homes and community hubs across the UK.
Episode 12: How do you direct an opera?
What is the difference between directing a play and directing an opera? Opera director Daisy Evans talks to Gareth about her unique approach to directing, how she got started in the industry and why a kebab van was an essential component of her recent production of Don(er) Pasquale!
Join comedian, journalist and lifelong opera fan Lorna Prichard as she glances into the world of opera. Lorna interacts with singers, conductors, experts and audience members whilst investigating the weird and wonderful side of opera and classical music.
Episode 1: The Italian Job
This week, world-renowned conductor Carlo Rizzi chats with Lorna about the enduring popularity of Giuseppe Verdi. Lorna dissects one of Verdi’s rediscovered operas Les vêpres siciliennes during this episode’s interval drinks. And we find out what makes Verdi the ‘big cheese’ of opera with some opera trivia from Elin Jones, WNO Dramaturg.
Episode 2: The Other Woman
Keen to find out more about the role of women in opera, Lorna sits down with Soprano Elin Pritchard. Together they discuss the most influential female characters in opera. And what better place for this week’s interval drinks than WNO’s new production of Carmen, in which Elin makes her debut as Micaëla. Later, WNO Dramaturg Elin Jones reunites with Lorna for a spot of Carmen trivia.
Episode 3: Mozart in the Jungle
Lorna meets baritone John Ieuan Jones and rediscovers her passion for Mozart. We then join her for interval drinks during The Marriage of Figaro. What makes this Mozart favourite stand the test of time? And later, find out everything you need to know about the child genius composer with Elin. Did Mozart really write the overture to Don Giovanni the day of the performance?
Episode 4: Music is always with you
Lorna meets WNO Chorus member Sian Meinir and talks about her involvement with some of WNO’s exciting youth and community projects. This week’s interval drinks comes with a twist, as Lorna interacts with audience members following a WNO community concert at Galeri, Caernarfon. And just as he turns 250, Beethoven is the subject of this week’s opera trivia.
Episode 5: Cav&Pag Part 1
Lorna sits down with acclaimed tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones to talk about his illustrious career. This week’s interval drinks are virtual and feature a very special guest, Lorna’s Mum! Together they explore a recorded performance of Cavalleria Rusticana, which is the focus of this week’s trivia with our very own Dramaturg Elin Jones.
Episode 6: Cav&Pag Part 2
The second part of Lorna’s Cav&Pag special, finishing up her chat with Gwyn Hughes Jones and discussing Pagliacci over interval drinks.
Episode 7: What about Strauss?
Lorna meets Soprano Fflur Wyn and explores her connections to the works of Richard Strauss. Later, Lorna and her Mum embark on some virtual interval drinks during a recorded performance of Der Rosenkavalier. And Elin’s back with trivia exploring the varied repertoire of Strauss.
Episode 8: Politics in Opera
Lorna discusses the role of politics in opera and classical music. The subject of this week’s interval drinks and trivia is Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto.
Episode 9: A Vixen’s Tale
Lorna meets with soprano Meriel Andrew to talk about her career highlights and discovers what it was like for her to share the stage with her daughter Martha in a recent performance of The Cunning Little Vixen.
Episode 10: Madam Butterfly
Lorna meets director Angharad Lee to talk about her work on a recent production of Madam Butterfly. This enduring classic by Puccini is also the focus of this week’s interval drinks and trivia with WNO Dramaturg Elin Jones.