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Opera at Cardiff

Opera Royal Versailles
The School of Music has a growing reputation as a centre for opera studies. Our diverse range of academic staff means that research undertaken at the School tackles the field from several different approaches.

In May 2012 the School launched Cardiff Interdisciplinary Research in Opera (CIRO), a new platform for interdisciplinary collaboration both within and beyond Cardiff University.

Click on the links below to learn more about opera research at Cardiff, from eighteenth-century burlesques to contemporary compositions.

DonThe Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century
Professor Rachel Cowgill is co-editor of a major new publication that focuses, for the first time, on the flesh-and-blood singers who portrayed legendary operatic characters

DonBurlesquing the Don
Professor Rachel Cowgill on burlesques of the Don on the early nineteenth-century London stage
SalomePerforming Salome and caricaturing opera
Forthcoming publications by Dr Clair Rowden
Birtwistle bookcoverHarrison Birtwistle’s Operas and Music Theatre
Dr David Beard provides the first definitive survey of Birtwistle's stage works
RobFokkensLite Bites, Love Songs and more
Dr Robert Fokkens' Tête à Tête Opera commissions
Judith Weir“... what are unquestionably some of the greatest operas of late 20th century…”
Meet Judith Weir, one of Britain’s leading contemporary composers
Dr Arlene Sierra’s operatic take on a legendary tale of desire


Opera programmesWe also benefit from a continued relationship with Welsh National Opera, based at Cardiff’s world-class Wales Millennium Centre. The Centre was the location for our recent international academic conference Love to Death: Transforming Opera (31 May – 2 June 2012). Incorporating the annual conference of the Royal Musical Association, the conference was themed around Welsh National Opera’s performances of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde and Puccini’s La bohème, with the works of both composers providing major themes for debate.

As well as our academic staff, our students and alumni are also contributing to our reputation for opera studies – in all areas from research and composition to performance and administration. We recently welcomed graduate Laura Hamer back to Cardiff. Laura completed her PhD La Scalain Musicology here in 2009 (on the piano music of Germaine Tailleferre) and is currently a Lecturer in Music at Liverpool Hope University.  She attended the Love to Death conference, presenting a paper with Christopher Dingle (Birmingham Conservatoire) on ‘The Puccini Paradox: critics, unpopular prejudice and the populist canon.’

Another graduate, Hannah Muddiman (BA in Music and English 2005, MA Music, Culture and Politics 2006) is currently working as Assistant Company Manager at English National Opera, having previously worked at Welsh National Opera and the Royal Academy of Music.

Since graduating from the School in 1992, Belfast-born Giselle Allen has gone on to successful career as a soprano and a recitalist. She won rave reviews for her lead performance in English National Opera’s UK premiere of controversial opera The Passenger last year and has been impressing critics and audiences alike with her role as Miss Jessel in Northern Ireland Opera’s The Turn of the Screw. Opera fans in Cardiff have recently had the opportunity to see Giselle take to the stage as Puccini’s tragic Mimi in Welsh National Opera’s production of La bohème.

Images on this page: La Scala interior, Milan © Flickr user Brian Negin; Opera Royal Versailles interior © Flickr user Thomas Schmit