In celebration of their 70th anniversary and the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Welsh National Opera have commissioned a new work by Iain Bell. ‘In Parenthesis’ is based on Welsh poet David Jones’ epic poem about the Battle of the Somme, and features a libretto by David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins. Inspired by Jones’s own experiences as an infantryman during World War I, the poem describes the embarkation of Private John Ball and his comrades for France. Bell’s beautiful score combines traditional Welsh song with moments of other-worldliness, terror, humour and transcendence.

Mark Le Brocq performs as Sergeant Snell, making a welcome return to WNO after recent performances as Smee in Richard Ayres’ ‘Peter Pan’, Aron in Schoenberg’s ‘Moses und Aron’, and Le Medecin in Debussy’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. Mark also performed Iain Bell’s previous work, the one-man chamber opera ‘A Christmas Carol’, in December 2015.

‘In Parenthesis’ opens with a world première performance in Cardiff on Friday 13 May, with further performances until 3 June. There is a performance in Birmingham on 10 June, before the production transfers to the Royal Opera House from 29 June – 1 July.