WNO: In Parenthesis

Donald Gordon Theatre


World Première

Music by Iain Bell
Libretto by David Antrobus and Emma Jenkins (after David Jones)

In Parenthesis was young British composer Iain Bell’s adaptation of the epic poem by Welsh poet, writer and artist David JonesIn Parenthesis was commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust with 14-18 NOW, the UK cultural programme to commemorate World War I.


Private John Ball and his comrades in the Royal Welsh 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 dared to offer hope. Even here amongst the destruction, a fragile flowering of regeneration and re-birth can be found. Bell’s beautiful score combined traditional Welsh song with moments of otherworldliness, terror, humour and transcendence. David Pountney’s period production is both an evocation and a commemoration of the events of the Somme.

Conductor Carlo Rizzi
Director David Pountney
Designer Robert Innes Hopkins

Private Ball
 Andrew Bidlack
Bard of Brittannia/HQ Officer Peter Coleman-Wright
Bard of Germania/Alice the Barmaid/ The Queen of the Woods Alexandra Deshorties
Lieutenant Jenkins George Humphreys
Lance Corporal Lewis Marcus Farnsworth
Sergeant Snell Mark Le Brocq
Dai Great Coat Donald Maxwell
The Marne Sergeant Graham Clark

Commissioned by the Nicholas John Trust with 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Supported by WNO Commissions Group.

Sung in English with surtitles in Welsh and English.