Music by Iain Bell
Libretto by David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins
(after David Jones)
This month I am very excited to be drawing at the major new opera In Parenthesis at the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff. In Parenthesis is composer Iain Bell’s adaptation of the epic poem by poet, writer and artist David Jones. I first came across David Jones’ epic war poem in 2002 while studying at the Royal drawing school in London and am a fan of David Jones’ art work (I love his London zoo drawings!).
I am also looking forward to visiting the WNO Field – a digital installation which opens May 13th 2016. It’s an interactive installation in memorial to the Royal Welch Fusiliers who died at Mametz Wood – This installation is open daily to the public and is free to enjoy and is situated directly outside the Wales Millenium Centre.
David Jones (1895-1974) trained as an artist in London but had Welsh roots through his family. In Parenthesis is an epic war poem of the First World War, the poem won the the admiration of writers such as W.B.Yeats and T.S.Eliot. The poem is based on David Jones’s own experience as an infantryman. With the outbreak of the Great War, Jones enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and served on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918. He served longer at the front than any other British war writer. His experiences in the trenches were to prove a major influencet in his later painting and poetry, especially his involvement in the fight at Mametz Wood.
In Parenthesis, narrates the experiences of English Private John Ball in a mixed English-Welsh regiment starting with leaving England and ending seven months later with the assault on Mametz Wood during the Battle of the Somme.
Private John Ball and his comrades in the Royal Welch Fusiliers are posted to the Somme. In Mametz Wood they enter a strange realm – outside of time, dream-like but deadly. Rather than simply reporting the horrors of the Somme, In Parenthesis dares to offer hope. Even here amongst the destruction, a fragile flowering of regeneration and re-birth can be found. Bell’s beautiful score combines traditional Welsh song with moments of other-worldliness, terror, humour and transcendence. David Pountney’s period production is both an evocation and a commemoration of the events of the Somme.
SOME OF MY SKETCHES FROM IN PARENTHESIS REHEARSALS MAY 2016