Our story

Opera is all about telling stories through music. Our work continues the great tradition of opera of the last 400 years, but also aims to challenge and transform it by exploring new ideas and telling new stories in bold, exciting ways.

We want our opera to engage and surprise audiences. We want to stimulate and communicate new ideas, thoughts and feelings, and so we continually re-imagine what opera can do and what it can offer. That way we can keep opera a truly dynamic and contemporary art form. That is what we strive to do.

Eight Songs for a Mad King



Based in Cardiff, Music Theatre Wales is the UK’s leading national contemporary opera company. By commissioning outstanding composers and writers, developing the opera creators of the future and presenting works by the world’s most important contemporary composers, we deliver exciting new opera to audiences across Wales, the UK and internationally.

Since 1988 MTW has created over 30 productions and presented 15 world premieres. We have an established programme to help nurture new opera composers and we have created productions with a wide range of partners including Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg, the Berlin Festival, Opera Vest in Norway, Banff Centre in Canada, Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon, Haarlem Theatre in The Netherlands, Treffpunkt in Stuttgart, Theater Magdeburg in Germany, Scottish Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Ghost Patrol

At the 2011 TMA Theatre Awards our production of Greek by Mark-Anthony Turnage won Outstanding Achievement in Opera. In March 2013, Ghost Patrol by Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for opera and as part of a double-bill with In the Locked Room by Huw Watkins was nominated for an Olivier award for outstanding achievement in opera in a co-production with Scottish Opera. Artistic Director Michael McCarthy was awarded Best Director at the 2015 Wales Theatre Awards for his production of The Trial, and the co-founders of MTW – Michael McCarthy and Michael Rafferty – were awarded MBEs in the 2016 Queen’s New Year Honours.

MTW has been recorded on CD and broadcast on BBC radio, and several productions have toured internationally. In April 2017, The Golden Dragon will be presented by the Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea and The Trial will be seen at Opera Theatre St Louis as the USA premiere.

The Devil Inside


29 years ago when Music Theatre Wales was created, our vision was simple: to commission and perform new opera from the most talented and exciting composers and writers and tour that work in Wales, the UK and Europe.

32 productions and 15 commissions later, we’ve succeeded on many levels. But there is a catalogue of work still to come, and our ambition is undimmed.

We continue to be inspired by the brilliance of the composers and writers we've had the privilege of working with, and everyone else who has contributed so much to our success.

Without support from Trusts, Foundations and Individuals we simply wouldn't be able to do what we do.

For further information on how you might support Music Theatre Wales, please email our Chief Executive Carole Strachan, carole@musictheatre.wales

The Golden Dragon


Music Theatre Wales is a revenue client of the Arts Council of Wales, receives touring funding from Arts Council England and gratefully acknowledges support from the many private funders who have supported us so generously in recent years.

We are most grateful for support from the following trusts and individuals towards our work:

Diaphonique logo

Diaphonique, Franco-British fund for contemporary music in partnership with the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, the Sacem, the British Council, the French Ministry of Culture, the Bureau Export, the Institut français and the Friends of the French Institute Trust.

  • Chris Ball
  • Boltini Trust
  • Philip Carne
  • Linda Christmas
  • Robert and Philippa John
  • Peter and Veronica Lofthouse
  • Vincent Meyer
  • Myristica Trust

For further information on how you might support Music Theatre Wales, please email our Chief Executive Carole Strachan, carole@musictheatre.wales

The Trial


Repertoire since 1988

  • Passion Pascal Dusapin (UK premiere 2018)
  • The Golden Dragon Peter Eötvös (UK premiere 2016)
  • The Devil Inside Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh (commission 2016)
  • The Trial Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton (commission 2014)
  • The Killing Flower (Luci mie traditrici) Salvatore Sciarrino (UK premiere 2013)


  • Ping Vasco Mendonca from a monologue by Samuel Beckett (UK premiere 2013)

Eight Songs for a Mad King

  • Eight Songs for a Mad King Peter Maxwell Davies

In The Locked Room

  • In the Locked Room Huw Watkins and David Harsent (commissioned as a double-bill 2012)
  • Ghost Patrol Stuart MacRae and Louise Welsh (commissioned as a double-bill 2012)
  • Greek Mark-Anthony Turnage and Steven Berkoff (2011)

In The Penal Colony

  • In the Penal Colony Philip Glass and Rudolph Wurlitzer (UK premiere 2010)
  • Letters of a Love Betrayed Eleanor Alberga and Donald Sturrock (commission 2009)
  • Crime Fiction Huw Watkins and David Harsent (commission 2009)
  • Stori’r Milwr new Welsh version of The Soldier’s Tale (commissioned 2009)

For You

  • For You Michael Berkeley and Ian McEwan (commission 2008)


  • Julie Philippe Boesmans and Luc Bondy (UK premiere 2007)
  • House of the Gods Lynne Plowman and Martin Riley (commission 2006)

Knot Garden

  • The Knot Garden Michael Tippett (2005)

The Piano Tuner

  • The Piano Tuner Nigel Osborne and Amanda Holden (commission 2004)
  • Ion Param Vir and David Lan (commission 2003)
  • Electrification of the Soviet Union Nigel Osborne and Craig Raine (version commissioned 2002)
  • Gwyneth and the Green Knight Lynne Plowman and Martin Riley (commission 2002)
  • Jane Eyre Michael Berkeley and David Malouf (commission 2000)
  • The Rape of Lucretia Benjamin Britten and Ronald Duncan 1999
  • Punch and Judy Harrison Birtwistle and Stephen Pruslin 1998
  • The Roswell Incident John Hardy and Heledd Wyn (commission 1997)
  • In the House of Crossed Desires John Woolrich and Marina Warner (commission 1996)
  • The Soldier’s Tale Igor Stravinsky (new performing version commissioned from Sion Eirian 1995)
  • Pierrot Lunaire Arnold Schoenberg
  • Flowers John Hardy and Ed Thomas (commission 1994)
  • The Lighthouse Peter Maxwell Davies 1993
  • The Four Note Opera Tom Johnson 1993
  • Ubu Andrew Toovey and Michael Finnissy (commission 1992)
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Michael Nyman and Christopher Rawlence (1991)
  • The Fall of the House of Usher Philip Glass and Arthur Yorinks (European premiere 1989)
  • The Martyrdom of St Magnus Peter Maxwell Davies (1988)


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All Production Photography Clive Barda unless otherwise stated | All copyright Music Theatre Wales. Company Registration Number: 02815692 VAT Number: 615 5203 70 Registered Charity Number: 1039757

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