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February is of course the month of Valentine's Day, the day on which Hallmark and Interflora make a huge profit and thousands of people do their best to speak of love and adoration.

One of the greatest tales of love and humour in the long history of literature and music is the tale of Figaro, his love for Susanna and the complex intrigue entered into to foil the amorous advances of his master, the Count Almaviva, with the aid of the Countess. To prove that even Further Education is not immune to the fateful day of roses and chocolate, the Welsh National Opera (WNO) welcomed students from Merthyr Tydfil College of the Performing Arts to a workshop and performance of Puccini's "The Marriage of Figaro".

Opportunity

The workshop event continued over a period of a week at a venue in Merthyr, and culminated in the students" performance at the Wales Millennium Centre. Included in this performance was a piece of musical theatre created and designed by the students themselves. The performance of this piece took place on the opening night of the WNOs production of "The Marriage of Figaro" by Puccini on Saturday 11th of February.

The musical theatre piece was a representation of their experience with the dress rehearsal for "The Marriage of Figaro", dealing with their thoughts and emotional responses to the music and the dramatic action on stage. The workshop was the ideal opportunity for the students of the college in performance and musical studies to work with some of the WNOs most respected performers.

In any performance art, the concept of arriving and never developing is alien to success. An awareness of the new strength and diversity that a different audience can bring to any performance or display is vital to the continued evolution of artistic expression. Coming at a time of increased concern over the erosion of our rights to express ourselves and the clamping down on acts of protest in Parliament Square before our own elected officials, music, dance, theatre and art could prove an invaluable medium for self "“ expression and release.

Jethro Marsh

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