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Behind the scenes at the Welsh National Opera

Cardiff University

A new book by Professor Paul Atkinson from Cardiff University's School of Social Sciences takes a rare look behind the scenes at Europe's busiest touring opera company.

Everyday Arias: An Operatic Ethnography is the result of a long-term anthropological study of the everyday life of the Welsh National Opera Company.

Professor Atkinson was granted access to the Welsh National Opera rehearsal studios, backstage at theatres, and many of the administrative offices of the company. His book describes the detailed work that goes into the creation of an opera production: how singers and directors negotiate the complex work of creating music-theatre.

"The book also describes how the opera company 'performs itself' off the stage", said Professor Atkinson.

"The round of golf played by Bryn Terfel and Rory Bremner (the latter providing a running commentary in the style of Peter Alliss) is worthy of a comic opera in its own right!"


Research for the book was supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

Professor Atkinson has just received his Manchester University BA in Opera Studies, which he studied part-time with Rose Bruford College. He, Sara Delamont and Rachel Hurdley in the School of Social Sciences are also undertaking preliminary work on the University's Cardiff International Academy of Voice a new international Academy to train promising opera singers. The Academy will concentrate on musical, stylistic issues and vocal technique under the directorship of renowned Welsh tenor Dennis O'Neill CBE.

Everyday Arias: An Operatic Ethnography is published by AltaMira Books (a division of Rowman and Littlefield).

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