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Wales Arts Review Volume 3 Issue 17

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In a summer of great festivals, Wales Arts Review 3.17 is proud to present in-depth coverage of a unique opera festival in Austria, the Bregenzer Festspiele, directed for the past eleven years by the now Welsh National Opera CEO and Artistic Director David Pountney. Thanks to a generous grant from Wales Arts International, our music editor Steph Power was able to explore firsthand Pountney’s work in his final year at Bregenz, within this important European context. We lead with their wide-ranging discussion, in which Pountney describes many aspects of his work in Bregenz and beyond – including his spectacular production on the Lake Constance floating stage, of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which Steph also reviews for us. Steph spoke, too, with the celebrated composer HK Gruber; featured in Bregenz this summer under the theme ‘Bittersweet Vienna’, and whose gripping new opera Tales from the Vienna Woods received its world première there. In an extensive and exclusive report, Steph gives us her take on the opera, and performances of several other pieces which formed a weekend focus on Gruber’s work as composer, conductor and chansonnier.

Away from Austria, Wales Arts Review this issue maintains our global feel, with Paul Chambers’ deeply evocative ode to the haiku in ‘Deep Sigh: Meditations on the Haiku’, which we publish alongside his own series of haiku, matched with wonderful imagery, in Song from the Halfway House. We also have new poetry from Poetry Wales editor Nia Davies, who has been working on a cycle of responses to particularly long words that can be found in foreign languages, in ‘Poems from Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız or Long Words’. We also continue our commission of new poems with an introduction by Carl Griffin, in ‘Three Poems: Angela France, Benjamin Palmer and Jonathan Edwards’.

Now the dust has settled and the exhilarating chaos has subsided, Wales Arts Review has now had time to look back on our extremely successful and popular Green Man Live rolling coverage. Over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, our writers covered every imaginable aspect of this year’s festival, reviewing and previewing acts including National Theatre Wales, First Aid Kit, Mercury Rev, The War on Drugs, as well as the marvellous Cinedrome tent. If you were there and want to relive a great weekend, then our coverage is the only place to go.

In our ongoing collaboration with the Association of Welsh Writing in English, the Gregynog Papers, we publish Elizabeth Edwards’ essay on the nuances of national identity, ‘Place Makes a Difference: Hester Piozzi’s Welsh Independence’.

In our continued search for the Greatest Welsh Novel we have two new passionate, very different nominations. Charlotte Rogers puts her case forward for a sci-fi epic, Alistair Reynolds’ award-winning tome, Chasm City; and Phil Morris argues for perhaps a more traditional take on ‘Welshness’, with Dannie Abse’s Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve.

In our series of interviews marking Dylan Thomas’ centenary year, Jasper Rees talks to former Archdruid and the translator of Under Milk Wood into Welsh, T James Jones.

Adam Somerset looks at the drawings of Falcom Hildred from the viewpoint of Peter Wakelin’s new book on the artist, and we are delighted to bring to you the story of Newport theatre company Tin Shed’s journey to and through this year’s San Diego Fringe Festival, where they took their hit show, Dr Frankenstein’s Travelling Freak Show, straight from the pen of Artistic Director, Justin Cliffe.

Banner illustration by Dean Lewis

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