Communities excited about Opera in the Park
It’s not every day that visitors and residents of the upper Swansea Valley get the chance to hear opera in the Craig y nos Country Park. But Welsh National Opera will be celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Adelina Patti’s last professional performance at Craig-y-nos Country Park on Sunday 24th August. Adelina Patti was the most famous opera singer in the world in the early 1900s and the Welsh National Opera will perform some of Adelina Patti’s best loved songs on the lawn of the Patti Pavilion at a free concert in Craig-y-Nos Country Park.
It has been 100 years since world renowned-soprano, Adelina Patti’s last professional performance but her memory is still held dear in the Upper Swansea Valley. The Welsh National Opera (WNO) will be celebrating Adelina Patti’s work with a free concert, performing live outdoors at 6pm on Sunday 24 August, at the Craig-y-Nos Country Park – the former grounds of her magnificent Castle (which is now a privately owned hotel and popular wedding venue). The event is being sponsored by Powys County Council and is part of the National Park Authority’s Rural Alliances, which is funded by the EU’s Interreg 1VB NWE programme and Welsh Government’s Targeted Match Fund. Although the event is free there will be a £2.00 charge to park on the site that day – the Country Park will be closed to cars when the event is full.
During the afternoon musicians from WNO will be holding percussion workshops for families and playing in different parts of the Park. Visitors can also catch a sneak preview of the evening performance at the afternoon rehearsals
At 6pm American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams and a Chamber Orchestra from WNO will perform a selection of some of Adelina Patti’s best known songs alongside orchestral favourites, on a stage at the foot of the steps of Adelina’s Pavilion in the grounds of the Country Park.
Adelina was known to give occasional concerts from the steps of her Pavilion and said that the natural amphitheatre of the hills provided excellent acoustics for her audience. The free concert will give opera-lovers the opportunity to judge for themselves.
Mary Elizabeth Williams’ work with WNO this season has received acclaim from critics and audiences alike. She has appeared with WNO in Verdi’s Nabucco during the summer season, and it seems entirely fitting that she now performs some of Adelina’s greatest songs since Verdi described Adelina Patti as one of the finest singers who ever lived.
A small exhibition is currently on display in the now restored, former game larder at Craig-y-Nos Country Park and concert-goers with a few moments to spare may choose to follow the path up to see the exhibition. The path is marked by the words Home Sweet Home – named after one of Adelina’s most famous songs. The Tawe Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers will also be at the Country Park over the bank holiday weekend with an exhibition in the Hibbert Room.
Cllr Geraint Hopkins, Chairman of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park commented: “We are delighted that Welsh National Opera will be performing a free concert along with workshops for local children at Craig-y-Nos Country Park. During her lifetime, Adelina Patti had a profound impact on the lives of those in this area and to pay homage through an open air concert is particularly special. This will offer an opportunity for those who were too young to appreciate or who may have forgotten about her style, her generosity, her talent and her diva lifestyle.”
Stephen Davies, Chairman of Tawe Uchaf Community Council agreed “Our communities are really excited about this event and we have been working with the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority to publicise it, I am looking forward to seeing people with their picnics, enjoying the Opera in the Park.”
Peter Harrap, WNO Chorus and Orchestra Director added :
“It is an absolute pleasure to be working with Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority on this exciting project over the afternoon and early evening of the 24th. To be performing in this way to Adelina’s local community 100 years on, just as she pioneered and would certainly have approved, as well as to a wider circle of visitors who are passing through the area, will be a privilege for our star singer, our conductor and our musicians. We look forward to being part of welcoming everyone to this beautiful and haunting valley setting.”
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Picture copyright WNO –Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams
Picture copyright Peter Fry c/o BBNPA – Craig y Nos Country Park