Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama (CIRO)

A platform for interdisciplinary collaboration in opera and drama research both within and beyond Cardiff University.

The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama (CIRO) was officially launched in May 2012 at the School of Music’s ‘Love to Death: Transforming Opera’ conference held at the Wales Millennium Centre in association with Welsh National Opera and the Royal Musical Association.

CIRO is an interdisciplinary network bringing together scholars and practitioners – composers, directors, librettists, dramaturgs, surtitlers  – working on a range of topics and methods for the study and creation of opera and drama.

We facilitate knowledge exchange between academia and the professional performance world both in Wales and beyond, and CIRO is currently developing a large-scale project studying creative collaboration in the making of new opera. We have privileged exchanges with Welsh National Opera, Music Theatre Wales, and Cardiff Singer of the World.

We offer doctoral scholarships to outstanding candidates whose work will benefit from the interdisciplinary nature of the network and our links to external partners, and whose work will in turn enhance the research profile of the network. The first doctoral scholarship was awarded in 2015 to professional opera director Benjamin Davis, working on a practice-based research project provisionally entitled ‘The personal and cultural value of popular verismo operas in the UK’, supervised by Dr Clair Rowden.

Other PhD students include Fleur Bray, a professional opera singer and composer working on creating new opera, with specific interest in vocal writing from a singer’s perspective.


Rob Fokkens

Dr Robert Fokkens


+44 (0)29 2087 4378
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Dr Monika Hennemann

Lecturer in German & Translation, School of Modern Languages

+44 (0)29 2087 4236
Clair Rowden

Dr Clair Rowden

Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of School

+44 (0)29 2087 0462

CIRO hosts a variety of events each year, including guest lectures, study days, conferences and seminars with international speakers, workshops and panel discussions. Bringing together such a diverse range of expertise leads to publications, new creative work, and funding applications for multi- and interdisciplinary research projects.

CIRO’s first guest lecture, entitled ‘Revisiting Edward Loder (1809-1865): The Operas Reconsidered’, will be given by Dr Paul Rodmell (University of Birmingham) on 24 November 2015.

Early in 2016, Welsh National Opera (WNO) will also host Cardiff University’s composers in workshop events with both Iain Bell and Elena Langer, composer of 'Figaro gets a divorce'.

From May 2016, CIRO will collaborate with both Welsh National Opera (WNO) and the National Museum of Wales (NMW) to commemorate poets and artists of the First World War, in particular the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Events will link up with WNO’s second newly commissioned opera this season 'In Parenthesis' – an adapation of David Jones’s World War I epic poem of the same title – by librettists Emma Jenkins and David Antrobus, and composer Iain Bell, as well as with NMW’s concurrent exhibition 'War is Hell: The Art and Poetry of Mametz Wood', where sketches by David Jones will be on public display for the first time. Between May and November 2016, CIRO will run a series of public Friday lunchtime lectures at the NMW, a study day on ‘Mametz, poetry and song’, and an international symposium ‘Musical and Artistic Creation in Europe during WWI’ in collaboration with KU Leuven and Heidelberg University, including a recital by Sir Thomas Allen of English song, and the Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra performing Laura Rossi’s new film score live to a screening of the 1916 film 'The Battle of the Somme' by Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. Specific dates and times of events will be forthcoming this autumn.

CIRO previously hosted the symposium ‘Stages of Death: Men, Women and Suffering in Opera and Ballet’ (2013) and the international interdisciplinary conference ‘Translation in Music’ (2014). The latter brought together opera and translation practitioners from major opera houses, including Royal Opera House and Opera North, with academics, sparking stimulating debate on surtitles, the accessibility of opera, the translation of popular music within a multi-disciplinary framework and the ethics of translation.