New Directions

Our ambition at Music Theatre Wales is to be a force for change: to challenge opera’s tendency to cling to the past by forging a new and different direction of travel for the future of the art form.

We believe that if we expand the horizons of opera, we can demonstrate that it’s an art form capable of engaging with people from all areas of society. To achieve this, we know that we too must change, and take our lead from artists with whom we have never previously worked. By collaborating with a wider range of practitioners and harnessing their creativity to explore new ideas, forms and stories, we will be able to connect to and inspire audiences we don’t currently reach.

To start this process, we’re launching New Directions.

With New Directions, Music Theatre Wales sets out to achieve real change - for the company, in terms of the diversity of those we work with and commission, and for the future of opera.

Through this new programme, we will ask: what can opera and music theatre in the 2020s be? Who makes it? Who is it for? How is it created? And where is it performed?

New Directions will celebrate the voices of those we commission as artists in their own right, and lead by example in an industry that has been slow to embrace diversity. We will be led by the commissioned artists’ visions for what opera and music theatre can be, in terms of the stories they choose to tell and the forms and processes they employ. As MTW enters into this new period of creativity, collaborating with artists who will inspire us to innovate, we are excited to also reach out to new and more diverse audiences and share our work more widely.

New Directions is led by Elayce Ismail, a theatre/opera director and dramaturg, who holds the newly-created post of Artistic Associate.

New Directions - Live Works

The Jollof House Party Opera - live

live Production

Praise for Jollof!

We wanted to share some feedback from people who came to The Jollof House Party Opera. Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts…

“I loved the mixing of styles, the light and shade, the fact that it was an experience rather than a performance, and the food was great!”

“This made my week. I had no idea what to expect and was so pleasantly surprised. Really lifted my heart - thank you”

“The most exciting/original piece of work I have ever seen”

“It showed the struggles of day to day life”

“I am Nigerian so could relate to this performance. Was absolutely amazing”

“Ingenious, the way that opera combined seamlessly with the hip-hop's musical elements - And great to have an opportunity to try some of the lovely food”

“The music, especially in the kitchen, the fact you got jollof at the end 🙂 interactive with the audience”

“Melting together the everyday and commonplace with the highbrow opera made for a really interesting experience”

“So unusual and good performances. Dancing, singing, Story was really funny - What a thing to think of. Great musicians, too.”

“The fusion of hip hop and opera was inspired. The performers were warm, engaging and humorous.”

“Very innovative and funny. Great idea to combine hip-hop, opera and food”

“Good energy. Fusion of hip-hop and opera was fresh and fun. It had a warmth to it - funny and human. It wasn’t too long. Loved the kitchen & using props as music. Jollof was banging, great accompaniment.”

“The interaction from the performers was great and the food was a great addition to a very modern take on an opera.”

“Loved every minute, please come again & I need this rice recipe!!”

New Directions - Digital Works

Inspired by the creation of our first digital work, AMAZON by Alex Ho and Elayce Ismail (commissioned for the Homemakers programme at HOME Manchester in July 2020 and created in partnership with the London Sinfonietta), New Directions began with three short digital commissions which brought together artists who had not previously collaborated with each other. The short commissioned works were released in September 2021, exploring what opera might be and offering ideas about how to approach making opera as a digital form.

In March 2024 we are delighted to present another two new Digital Opera Shorts: GRIEF and interbeing.


digital Production


digital Production

The Jollof House Party Opera - Digital

digital Production

Pride (A Lion's Roar)

digital Production


digital Production

An unexpected outcome of this initial phase of work is the potential development of new networks with other organisations such as LOYALTY – a mentoring scheme for emerging Black artists in Wales, and ENOA (European Network of Opera Academies) who have established residencies for diverse artists in European opera companies.