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Remembering the heroes from WWI; As the world premiere OFWELSH National Opera's new production In Parenthesis kicks off tonight at THEWALEs Millennium Centre, Rachel Mainwaring finds out there's plenty of community work behind the scenes to commemorate to the First World War.

Welsh National Opera will commemorate the First World War and the Battle of the Somme with a community project that will see a massive digital installation of poppies at the front of the Wales Millennium Centre.

Field has been created by awardwinning international art and design collective Squidsoup, and commissioned by the WNO to accompany their new opera In Parenthesis.

It is acclaimed British composer Iain Bell's adaptation of the epic poem by poet, writer and artist David Jones and is a remembrance of his own personal experience as a soldier at the Battle of Mamtez Wood and it's part of 14-18NOW, the UK cultural programme for the First World War centenary.

The 923 lights represent each of the fallen fusiliers whose names are inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial in France. Some of these men would have served with Jones during the battle of Mametz in 1916.

Field follows a similar project to the one in London in 2014 called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red that saw 888,246 ceramic poppies planted in the moat at the Tower of London, each representing a British or Colonial fatality in the First World War.

The digital installation in Cardiff Bay will seek to create an environment for remembrance and contemplation; one that connects the spiritual and elemental with the physical, the unseen with the seen, and past with the present.

There will also be a single poppy inside Wales Millennium Centre to commemorate the Unknown Soldier.

Visitors to the centre will also have the opportunity to find out about missing soldiers and view poems and letters written from the time of the fighting in a foyer display.

And after the world premiere of WNO's opera, In Parenthesis will also be available to anyone who loves opera or is curious to try it for the first time via Opera Platform, which will be streaming it online for free (from Friday, July 1).

WNO's Youth and Community team have been working since January at locations where David Jones (the writer of In Parenthesis) and his division had a connection on their way to France, in Southampton, the Valleys, Newport and Caernarfon.

School children have researched their own families' experience during the First World War to inspire them to write and stage a performance for their friends and family. The project helped connect communities with their First World War heritage and introduced younger people to performing arts.

In Caernarfon (where the Royal Welch Fusiliers which Jones served with were based) the performance was entitled Peblig In Parenthesis. Peblig was the estate where the participants came from and part of the Communities First Estates project.

Working in conjunction with WNO and the arts charity Cwmni Cofis Bach, a group of 45 youth participants worked to create and perform the piece, including all the artwork used on stage. WNO have also teamed up with Literature Wales' writing squads, established teams who work with young people throughout Wales to increase confidence and inspire writing and literacy.

Working throughout the South Wales Valleys and Newport, these groups have been helping children write their own librettos (an opera's text) inspired by In Parenthesis.

The ongoing sessions for this project have seen children study Christopher William's The Welsh at Mametz Wood a painting which is currently on display at National Museum Wales, as part of Cardiff's War Hell: The Battle of Mametz Wood in Art exhibition.

Children have written poems based on the emotions they feel the painting evokes. These poems will be used to write a libretto which will be composed by Helen Woods and be recorded by a team including WNO creative team members soprano Zoe Milton Brown and baritone Dyfed Wyn Evans.

The groups involved have the chance to visit the National Museum of Wales to perform their work on Friday, June 3. Their experience will culminate in a visit to a performance of In Parenthesis in the evening.

In Parenthesis WNO have also been working in partnership with Helen Woods and Gritty Realism digital animation company to run a series of sessions known as In Parenthesis Teach in primary schools in South and West Wales to introduce children to opera and the themes of In Parenthesis, such as poverty, morality, identity and community.

The children have had the opportunity to create animations which will be shown at the Wales Millennium Centre today to coincide with the world premiere. In addition to this, Welsh National Opera are working in partnership with CanSing to create interactive learning resources that will be used at Come & Sing events, running throughout summer in Wales.

WNO want to encourage people of any singing ability to come along and sing Sosban Fach, the Welsh folk song made famous from its usage in rugby matches and other songs. The song was popular amongst Welsh regiments fighting in the trenches and features at the start of the second act of In Parenthesis.

These events are taking place across Cardiff, Llandudno, Abergavenny (at the National Eisteddfod), Wrexham and in London beginning at 6pm at the Wales Millennium Centre today.

| For further information on In f Parenthesis visit uk and


Alexandra Deshorties during In Parenthesis rehearsals

Mark Le Brocq as Serge in In Parenthesis

Andrew Bidlack as Private John Ball from In Parenthesis
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 13, 2016
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