The story of the origins of Newport Operatic Society is the subject of a new book written by a former Society member, David Kenny to coincide with the Society’s centenary.
Newport-born David, who was a member of the society for over 25 years, has delved into the archives to extract tales and photographs from the Society’s history for Newport Operatic Society – The First 100 Years available now from Saron Publishers.
Book Recalls Newport Operatic Society Early Years
Founded in 1920, Newport Operatic Society played to packed houses twice a year at Newport’s Empire and Lyceum Theatres. Queues of over a thousand people were a frequent sight outside the box offices when tickets went on sale.
The book recalls how Newport Operatic Society embraced the opportunity to perform some of the greatest operettas, as well as more obscure examples. Originally established to stage the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, they quickly branched out into the likes of Showboat, The Mikado, Die Fledermaus and the Desert Song, (of which the Society was the first amateur company in Wales to perform). The production was produced by Harry Winton who brought his experience of its first UK production at London’s Drury Lane in 1927.
Book Celebrates Society’s Exceptional Talent
Newport Operatic Society – The First 100 Years also celebrates the exceptional talent featured in the society including several members who later undertook professional operatic careers with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Meanwhile production and backstage talent included producer Maisie Griffiths, a dancer with Anna Pavlova’s Corps de Ballet, after auditioning for the greatest Russian ballerina of her generation herself.
Although a hiatus in productions occurred following the outbreak of World War II, the society returned with a fresh approach and has continued into its centenary with productions such as Sunset Boulevard, Chess and Oliver! joining the company repertoire.
Newport Operatic Society – The First 100 Years is fully illustrated and available now from Saron Publishing.
- Order Newport Operatic Society – The First 100 Years by David Kenny
- Featured photographs are from Newport Operatic Society productions of The Mikado and South Pacific.