A Matter Most Historic


Henry V (1387-1422)— also known as Hotspur in Shakespeare’s history play Henry V — was opposed by the Welshman, Owain Glyndwr—known as “Glendower” in the Shakespearian play.

This conflict has been celebrated in literature and art throughout the centuries, recognized for its significance and memorialized in Welsh culture on September 16th, the day on which, in 1400, Owain Glyndwr was proclaimed the Prince of Wales. Six months later, he captured Castell Conwy (Conwy Castle) defeated the English in 1402, captured Castell Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen Castle) in 1403, and signed a treaty with King Charles VI in 1404 to ensure the support of France for the Welsh rebellion. In 1405, Glyndwr agreed to divide England and Wales between himself, Percy Earl Northumberland and Edmund Mortimer.

Eleven years later — in 1416, the official, but unsubstantiated, year of his death — Owain Glyndwr disappeared from history, but not from legend. Hotspur’s father, Henry IV, died in 1413 — leaving his son, then only 26 years old, to deal with the Welsh Rebel. Hotspur died nine years after his father in 1422.

These tumultuous years form the background for the first Welsh opera, Blodwen. Set in the 14th Century, Blodwen, takes the classic operatic form of dramatic romance. Mynyddog, the bardic name of Richard Davies (1833-77), collaborated with Pencerdd America, the bardic name of composer, Joseph Parry, to create Blodwen, the first opera in the Welsh language.

The first performance of Blodwen took place on May 21st, 1878 in Aberystwyth, on the composer’s 37th birthday.

The first full performance of Blodwen in the United States, with a new arrangement for chamber orchestra by Dulais Rhys, will be in May 2019, 141 years after its Welsh premiere, under the auspices of Rimrock Opera Foundation, in Billings, Montana.

Four performances, May 10-11 and May 18-19, are scheduled at NOVA, Center for Performing Arts, with an international cast of singers, including Jeremy Huw Williams as Arthur and Nerys Jones singing the part of Lady Maelor; the part of  Blodwen will be sung by Janie Sutton, Iolo by Doug Nagel, Hywel by Scott Wichael and Elen by Kate Meyer. This production will be directed by Welsh-American actor-director, Osian Rhys, costumes designed by Glenda Brauneis and the set constructed by Dan Nickerson.

The opera features romantic and heroic duets, rousing choruses, moving arias, and heart-wrenching drama. Blodwen will be sung in Welsh, with surtitles. For those who enjoy opera for its pageant, dramatic singing and music, the synopsis and libretto of the story are available on the website, Blodwen.

This production is one of the most significant Welsh-American events in 2019.

Tickets are on sale now at NOVA.

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November 9, 2018

November 9, 2018

Today marks 65 years since the death of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. The mystery of the cause of his death remains unsolved but the consensus is that alcohol played the major part.

Dylan Thomas had celebrated his 39thbirthday 13 days before, on October 27th, 1953.

Although exceedingly short, his professional career brought him the fame (but little fortune) that only a few poets achieve after their deaths and even more rarely during their lifetimes.

Some of his success as a poet can be attributed to his flamboyant personality and some to his appeal to literary bright lights — especially women. But, the bulk of his popularity is a result of the stunning command of his medium — the English language flavored by the lyricism of his Welsh background and his unmistakable knowledge of human experience.

Poet, playwright and storyteller, Dylan found the way to touch our hearts.

NOVA Center for the Performing Arts will host a reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” on December 9th.


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Cennen Pedr Cyntaf


Yr arwydd cyntaf o’r Gwanwyn / The first sign of spring

Maent wedi bod yn ymdrechu i flodeuo ers wythnosau ond dyma nhw o’r diwedd!

They have been struggling to blossom for weeks but here they are at last!

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Ar y Diwrnodau Hyn yn Ebrill*

480px-Portmeirion_view_of_central_plaza*On These Days in April


1401AD – Conway Castle surrendered to Owain Glyndwr (the Glendower of Shakespeare’s Henry IV fame).

1847AD – ‘Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales’ was published—the controversial “Treason of the Blue Books”.


1795AD – Local magistrates requested troops to quell the Denbigh Riot.


1923AD – John Ormond, poet and documentary film-maker born in Swansea


1989AD – Welsh used for the first time in swearing in the Queen’s Council at the House of Lords


1891AD – The first language census showed the number of Welsh-speaking people in Wales over the age of three was 898,000.

Prisoner_sm1926AD – Portmeirion (famed 1967 film set of The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan) opened to the public. Designed by Clough Williams-Ellis, the picturesque village is a popular tourist attraction throughout the year but is swarming with “Prisoner Fans” during the weekend closest to the 5th of April.


1835AD – Edward Morgan hanged at Monmouth for a “Scotch Cattle”** murder at Bedwellty.

1896AD – Snowdon Mountain Railway opened—one person died in an accident on the first day.


1920AD – First Archbishop of Wales elected at Llandrindod Wells—Alfred George Edwards, Bishop of St. Asaph.

**Scotch Cattle was the name taken by bands of coal miners in 19th century South Wales, analogous to the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania, who, in disguise, would 440px-Angus_cattle_24visit the homes of other local miners who were working during a strike or cooperating with employers against the local mining community in other ways and punish them by ransacking their property or attacking them physically.

Source: Wikipedia

Interesting to note: in Pennsylvania, the Molly Maquires attacked their Welsh co-workers who were often overseers and foremen because of their mining expertise.

Source for Dates: The Yearbook of Welsh Dates, John May, John Perry Press, 1989

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Press Release: Rimrock Opera Foundation

First Welsh Opera performed in May 1878

PRESS RELEASE: January 2018

In May/June of 2019, NOVA Center for the Performing Arts, in a co-production with Rimrock Opera Foundation in Billings, Montana, USA, will perform Joseph Parry’sBlodwen (the first Welsh opera) – yn Gymraeg! [in Welsh], with English supertitles. Tickets will go on sale in September 2018 – seating is limited so the early bird …http://www.novabillings.org
This will be the first complete stage production of Blodwen in America and will use Dulais Rhys’s 2015 chamber version of the orchestration. For more information:http://dulaisrhysmusicservices.com/blodwen.htm
Feel free to forward this Press Release to any interested parties.

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