Music Theatre Wales has won The Fedora Prize for Opera for their co-production with Opera Philadelphia and Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier of Denis & Katya by Philip Venables and Ted Huffman.
The Prize is awarded to an outstanding and innovative work created through an international co-production. The winner was announced on Friday June 28, 2019 at the Fedora Prize Award Night at Teatro La Fenice in Venice. Music Theatre Wales was one of only two UK organisations nominated for the Prize which pays tribute to creativity and innovation in the field of opera, supporting artistic excellence with the aim of helping to shape the future of the art form. Music Theatre Wales’ opera Violet by Tom Coult and Alice Birch was also on the final shortlist.
The winning opera Denis & Katya is a co-production led by Opera Philadelphia with Music Theatre Wales and Opéra Orchestre Montpellier and is a new work which examines the vast public response to the events surrounding the deaths of Russian runaways Denis Muravyov and Katya Vlasova. Splicing verbatim text, video, music and theatre, Denis & Katya will explore how stories are shaped and shared in our age of trolls, conspiracy theories, fake news, and 24/7 digital connection. Scored for only two singers and four cellists, this is a work that aims to re-write all the rules in order to tell this up-to-the-minute and true story of forbidden love that ends in tragedy.
The production will receive its premiere with Opera Philadelphia in September this year as part of their OP19 Festival, where the performances will be shared by an American and a Music Theatre Wales cast (Emily Edmonds and Johnny Herford). Following its US opening the production will be performed in the UK across Wales and England by Music Theatre Wales in February and March 2020 before moving on to Montpellier. The production will be performed in the UK in association with London Sinfonietta. Mezzo soprano Emily Edmonds will be making her music Theatre Wales debut, while baritone Johnny Herford has previously appeared with the company in The Trial (also on CD), The Golden Dragon and Passion.
Michael McCarthy, Music Theatre Wales’ Artistic Director, said:
“As soon as I saw 4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables it was clear that he was a truly original opera creator, so I was thrilled when Philip and Ted Huffman (director of 4.48 and writer/director of Denis & Katya) presented their idea for this new piece. Denis and Katya is about the way we live our lives in the here and now, through our screens and via social media, exploring the implications of these actions and our own participation in potentially tragic stories. Making this work hand-in-hand with Opera Philadelphia has already been hugely rewarding, and it’s a huge accolade to have this work and our collaboration recognised in this way.”
Music Theatre Wales’ UK tour of Denis & Katya will open at the Riverfront in Newport on 27 February 2020, before touring to Theatr Clwyd Mold, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, the Haymarket Basingstoke, and the Purcell Room at London’s South Bank Centre.
MAIN PICTURE: Philip Venables and Tedd Huffman “Photo by Dominic M. Mercier for Opera Philadelphia.”