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Torch Theatre offers a treat for opera lovers



BROADCAST live at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven this December, the Met Opera: Florencia En El Amazonas, will be an early Christmas present for opera lovers. This Met premiere by Mary Zimmerman brings the mystical realm of the Amazon to the Met stage.

Sung in Spanish and inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, Mexican composer Daniel Catán’s 1996 opera focuses on an opera diva, Florencia Grimaldi. Starring soprano Ailyn Pérez as Florencia, she returns to her native Brazil to perform and to search for her lost lover, who has vanished into the jungle.

The distinguished ensemble of artists portraying the diva’s fellow travellers on the river boat to Manaus features Gabriella Reyes as the journalist Rosalba, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the ship’s captain, baritone Mattia Olivieri as his enigmatic first mate, tenor Mario Chang as the captain’s nephew Arcadio, and mezzo-soprano Nancy Fabiola Herrera and baritone Michael Chioldi as the feuding couple Paula and Álvaro, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium.

The MET Opera: Florencia En Al Amazonas will be broadcast live at the Torch Theatre on Saturday 9 December at 5.55pm. Tickets prices: Full: £20.00 Concession: £18.00 Under 26: £9.00
Tickets can be purchased from the Box Office at the Torch Theatre on 01646 695267 or visit

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Review: Welsh National Opera Orchestra New Year Concert at St Davids Cathedral



THE New Year concert by the Welsh National Opera Orchestra (WNO) at St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire was an event of unparalleled majesty and musical brilliance, setting an exalted tone for the 2024 season of the Fishguard Festival of Music. Held on a Saturday, January 20, the concert was a resplendent showcase of Viennese music, masterfully delivered by an ensemble that has firmly established itself as a titan of classical performance.

With mezzo-soprano Beca Davies as guest soloist, the orchestra navigated through a sophisticated repertoire – vibrant showcase of favourites from Vienna. The selection included the works of Brahms, Delibes, Dvořák, Schubert, and the Strausses among others, each piece unfolding with an elegance and dynamism that captivated the audience from start to finish.

Full of fun, attractive and zesty rhythmic masterpieces, enjoy some of the most brilliant examples of Viennese music, from Weber’s romantic concert waltz and Strauss II’s riveting polka to Josef Strauss’s Dynamiden waltz and Lanner Der Romantiker waltz, complete with a few rousing, and familiar, surprises.

The acoustics of St Davids Cathedral, a venue steeped in history and architectural grandeur, played a pivotal role in the day’s success. The sacred walls of the cathedral seemed to breathe with the music, enhancing the orchestra’s sound to create an atmosphere that was both intimate and expansive. The natural reverberation of the venue lifted the performances, allowing each note to resonate fully and beautifully with the assembled audience.

The event was a testament to the WNO Orchestra’s reputation as a world-class ensemble. As noted by Gillian Green MBE, Artistic Director of the Fishguard Festival of Music, the orchestra’s return was highly anticipated and they did not disappoint. The afternoon was indeed a “feast of classical music,” with moments of toe-tapping joy and profound emotional depth that moved many to tears.

The extended applause that followed the final note was a fitting tribute to the musicians’ talent and the emotional resonance of the performance. It was clear that the audience was not merely applauding the day’s performance but also expressing their anticipation and excitement for future events. The WNO Orchestra’s ability to draw such a heartfelt response speaks volumes of their connection with their audience and their impeccable artistry.

The success of the concert also highlighted the importance of accessibility to such cultural events, with a festival bus ensuring that music lovers from Cardigan, Newport, Dinas, Fishguard, and Goodwick could join in this celebration of classical music. It was a reminder of the communal spirit that the arts can foster, bringing together individuals from across the region for a shared experience of beauty and inspiration.

As we look forward to the remainder of the Fishguard Festival of Music and beyond, it is with a sense of gratitude and anticipation. The New Year concert by the Welsh National Opera Orchestra at St Davids Cathedral was not just a musical event; it was a powerful reminder of the enduring beauty of classical music and its ability to uplift, unite, and inspire. We eagerly await the next opportunity to be moved by such world-class performances, confident in the knowledge that music, at its best, is a gift that continues to give, resonating within us long after the last note has faded.

The Music

Weber Aufforderung zum Tanze (Invitation to the Dance), Op 65 
Johann Strauss II Wo die Zitronen blüh’n (Where the Lemons Bloom) Waltz, Op 364
Josef Strauss Ohne Sorgen (Without Worries), Polka schnell, Op 271
Schubert Ave Maria, D 839
Brahms Hungarian Dance No 5
Johann Strauss II Ich lade gern mir Gäste ein (I love to invite my friends) from Die Fledermaus
Josef Strauss Dynamiden Waltz, Op 173 


Suppé Dichter und Bauer Overture
Dvořák Slavonic Dance No 2 Dumka Allegretto grazioso Op 72
Delibes Pizzicati from Sylvia
Richard Strauss Beim Schlafengehen from Four Last Songs
Lanner Der Romantiker Waltz Op 167 
Johann Strauss II Furioso Polka Op 260
Stolz Du Solsst der Kaiser meiner Seele sein from Der Favorit

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Enjoy pirates, dragons and dark sky spectacles this half term



PEMBROKESHIRE Coast National Park Authority’s three visitor attractions will all be hosting a variety of half term fun this February, offering family-friendly experiences and a flavour of the area’s culture and heritage.

At Carew Castle and Tidal Mill, pirates of the high seas will be coming ashore just in time for the school holidays. Younger visitors will be able take part in The Pirate Trail around the Castle between Saturday 10 February and Sunday 25 February for a small fee. Those successful in locating the pillaged treasure hidden by Pembrokeshire’s most notorious pirate can expect a hearty reward for their efforts.

There will also be an opportunity to join Captain Jan Sparrow for a fun free pirate session, featuring songs, silliness, games and the chance to develop swashbuckling sword skills. Pirates Ahoy! will take place on Monday 12 February, Thursday 15 February and Monday 19 February. Sessions last roughly 30 minutes and are scheduled for 11am, 12noon and 2pm. Normal admission fees apply and there is no need to book.

Carew Castle, which was named Visitor Attraction of the Year in Visit Pembrokeshire’s Croeso Awards, will be open between 10.30am and 3.30pm during the English and Welsh half-term holidays, with Nest Tearoom serving a delectable range of homemade cakes and light refreshments during opening hours.

As the countdown begins for Oriel y Parc’s iconic Dragon Parade on Saturday 2 March, there will be plenty of opportunities this half term to fire up your creative side and join in with the fun.

A Dragon Hunt Trail will run in the grounds of the gallery and visitor centre between Saturday 10 February and Friday 1 March. For a small fee, children will be invited to brave the dragon’s lair and complete the challenges to find the dragon’s egg and collect a medal for their efforts.

Free drop-in Art and Craft Days will take place every day at Oriel y Parc between Saturday 10 February and Sunday 18 February (excluding Wednesday 14), offering the chance to use the centre’s art materials and space to explore your artistic talents – and perhaps even make your own dragon for the Dragon Parade.

The Wednesday Club! Cariad Craft Workshop on Wednesday 14 February presents an opportunity for younger visitors to join in with the Valentine’s Day festivities and create a felt heart to give to a loved one. The drop-in workshop will take place between 11am-3pm and costs £4 per child.

As part of the Welsh Dark Skies Week, the Park Authority has organised two events to celebrate the beauty of Pembrokeshire’s dark skies and explore their relationship with the natural world.

An unforgettable Biofluorescent Night Walk will take place at Pengelli Wood Nature Reserve on Monday 12 February between 6pm-7.30pm. Led by Reveal Nature, the walk offers an insight into the secret world of communication taking place right under our noses and the opportunity to see a variety of biofluorescent organisms.

If you’ve ever wondered what our ancestors might have thought when they gazed up at the cosmos, The Wonders of the Night Sky at Castell Henllys on Wednesday 14 February might provide you with some answers. Gather around the warmth of a roundhouse fire, while storyteller Alice Courvoisier explores various constellations and their associated tales, myths and legends from different cultural traditions. The event will take place on Wednesday 14 February, between 6.15pm-7.45pm.

Booking is essential for both Dark Skies Week events. Further information about these and events taking place at Carew Castle, Castell Henllys and Oriel y Parc can be found at

In addition to all this, you can also explore the National Park’s great outdoors for free on foot. For inspiration on which routes to follow, visit

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is also trialling an e-bike rental scheme in St Davids. E-bikes can now be hired from Oriel y Parc and used to explore the local area with the aid of an electric motor. Perfect for conquering steep hills, or cycling a little bit further than you usually would, more information about the e-bikes can be found at

For those in need of additional mobility support, a range of equipment is also available to help you on your way, including mobility scooters and beach wheelchairs, some of which are available to hire now for free. For further details visit

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Wales features prominently among the Last Voices of the Irish Revolution



THE IRISH CIVIL WAR ended in 1923. The yearlong conflict had been fought between those who opposed and supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921 – a key component of which was the continued partition of Ireland and the fact that dominion status rather than an Irish republic had been achieved in the south (it would become known as the Irish Free State). Between 1919 and 1921, the Irish War for Independence had taken place followed by a twelve month truce period.

Eighty years after the end of the civil war, author and documentary-maker Tom Hurley wondered if there were many civilians and combatants left from across Ireland who had experienced the years 1919 to 1923, their prelude and their aftermath. What memories had they, what were their stories and how did they reflect on those turbulent times?

In early 2003, he recorded the experiences of 18 people in Ireland, conducting two further interviews in the United States in 2004. Tom spoke to a cross-section (Catholic, Protestant, Unionist and Nationalist) who were in their teens or early twenties during the civil war.

The chronological approach he has taken to his book spans fifty years, beginning with the oldest interviewee’s birth in 1899 and ending when the Irish Free State became the Republic of Ireland in 1949.

Among those interviewed for the book was Mai McMahon, born in 1902, in County Clare. She was a neighbour of a man named Art O’Donnell who was arrested after the 1916 Rising which was an attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland and establish a republic.

The rising failed and O’Donnell who worked as a teacher and was sent to Frongoch Internment Camp in Gwynedd along with hundreds of other Irish rebels. He was released some months later.

Another interviewee is George Cooper, born in Dublin, in 1910. His uncle had also participated in the 1916 rebellion and interestingly in 1922 his older sister Harriet Maud Victoria, married Corporal Baden Percy Lawrence of the 2nd Battalion, Welsh Regiment, in a Dublin registry office.

The author also spoke to William Geary from County Limerick who was aged 105 at the time. He recalled his friend Patrick O’Sullivan who was killed in 1917 during the First World War.

He had enlisted in the British army in Cardiff in 1915. The name of David Lloyd George from Llanystumdwy is salient throughout the book which isn’t surprising as he served as British Prime Minister from 1916 until his resignation in 1922.

He had therefore played an important part in the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. There are numerous other references to locations, landmarks and personalities connected to Wales contained in the book also.

100 years after the Irish Civil War ended, these 20 interviews recorded by Tom Hurley come together to create a unique oral account of the revolutionary period and the tensions that were brewing in the run-up and aftermath.

Together, theirs are the Last Voices of the Irish Revolution.

Last Voices of the Irish Revolution by Tom Hurley is available in bookshops throughout Ireland and the UK and can also be ordered online. It is published by Gill Books.

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