Finale of GREEK at TIMF

Music Theatre Wales

Greek at the Tongyeong International Music Festival, South Korea

Music Theatre Wales was invited by the Tongyeong International Music Festival (TIMF) in South Korea to present three performances of GREEK by Mark-Anthony Turnage in April 2015 – the Asian premiere of the opera and first visit to the region for the company. Joint Artistic Director of Music Theatre Wales, Michael McCarthy, visited South Korea in July 2014, supported by a grant from Wales Arts International. The visit enabled him to see the venue and assess its suitability, meet with the festival Director and staff and give a presentation on the production and discuss the planning process in detail.

The production was a genuine international collaboration, with the Music Theatre Wales conductor, director, cast and technical team working with the Korean ensemble and venue. Michael Rafferty went to Korea in advance of the cast to rehearse with the local ensemble in Seoul and was joined by the cast on the third day before everyone moved to Tongyeong, where final stage and orchestra rehearsals took place. The first performance took place on 2nd April, preceded by a pre-performance talk given by Michael McCarthy.

Taken from their report of the project:

"All three performances were sold out and were given a rousing reception. However the most remarkable thing was the way in which the audience actually participated in the production – punching their fists and waving their programmes in the air in rhythm to the riot scene and clapping and cheering Eddy on his return from defeating the Sphinx along with the ensemble. This was the first time any audience had reacted in this way and we loved it!

Many people from the audience and from the festival staff and volunteers approached us after the performance to tell us they had never seen anything like it before and to say how much they had enjoyed it. In addition, members of the Korean ensemble also talked about how different and exciting it was performing in the opera, especially given all the additional things they had to do as musicians whilst taking centre place on the stage.

Without the support of WAI we simply would not have been able to undertake this international performance and collaboration. We also hope that the visit will lead to further visits to Asia given the showcasing and networking opportunity this visit gave us.

Artistically we have learned a great deal about how to approach future collaborations of this nature, including allowing more time to rehearse with musicians who are unfamiliar with this kind of work.

MTW is keen to build on the success of our first visit to Asia. There is real potential for us to work with local cultural organisations to showcase new opera from Wales and the UK and we believe this could also have impact on our own work.

We returned from South Korea confident that we had made a significant impact and feeling that MTW had proved what a dynamic, high quality and efficient performance company we are and how well we are suited to international performance – for the benefit of new audiences, for the composers and writers of the works we showcase, and for the reputation of Wales and the UK as producers of exceptional performing arts. "

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