IN ADDITION to touring across Wales and the borders this March, Mid Wales Opera have been on the road with their schools’ programme visiting 14 Powys schools with free opera workshops.

Opera Singer Felicity Buckland and pianist Aeron Preston have worked with more than 1,000 children in schools in Montgomeryshire and in Presteigne, giving pupils a taste of live opera as part of MWO’s education work.

The visits have ranged from a performance to Years 7 and 8 in Newtown High School to work with the whole school, just 23 pupils, in Castle Caereinion Church in Wales School.

MWO’s executive director Lydia Bassett, who arranged the schools visits, said: “We love working in schools, the children never know what to expect and most have never seen an opera but when they hear Felicity sing for the first time they’re astonished.

“The children also tell us that they don’t think they know any opera, then discover there are lots of tunes which they recognise like the Toreador from "Carmen" and some of the arias from "The Marriage of Figaro", which we’re currently touring.”

MWO’s schools programme is supported by the Arts Council of Wales Lottery and donations at performances on their tours.

Their current production of Mozart’s "The Marriage of Figaro opened in Hafren, Newtown, on February 29, and they will be at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Tuesday, March 10, with the tour finishing at The Courtyard, Hereford, on Saturday, March 28.

The international cast includes British baritone Harry Thatcher as Figaro. award-winning Russian soprano Galina Averina is Susanna, Canadian-born soprano Jana Holesworth is the Countess, and Mark Saberton is Antonio.