Rock Opera and Musicals

In the mid-1970s a new genre of Welsh music appeared, namely the Rock Opera or Musical, referred to in Welsh as the ‘Opera Roc’ and ‘Sioeau Cerdd’.

Nia Ben Aur 1974

Perhaps the best known Welsh Rock Opera is 'Nia Ben Aur'. Written and performed by some of the biggest names in 1970s Welsh Rock and Pop including Edward H. Dafis, Hergest, Ac Eraill and Sidan. ‘Nia Ben Aur’ premiered on the pavilion stage of the National Eisteddfod in Carmarthen in 1974. It was one of the first shows of its kind in Welsh, and also the first time the rock and pop music world was welcomed onto the Eisteddfod stage. The show was recorded in 1975 and released on Sain's record label. A digitally remastered version was released on CD, again on the Sain label in 2000.

Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg

Meic Stevens, Geraint Jarman and Heather Jones wrote a rock opera in 1970 for HTV called ‘Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg’ (Inheritance through the Smoke).

A copy of BBC Radio Cymru's' Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg’ radio program is in the Library: 'Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg .  The Welsh rock opera Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg’  celebrates 40 years since its first transmission. 3 May 2010. (NLW AGSSC-RADIO / Digital / Digital llgc-id: 1302531)

A video from the TV programme ‘Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg' broadcast on 28 February 1970 is part of the HTV Wales archive at the Library. John Ogwen, Robin Griffiths, Geraint Wyn Davies, Huw Tudor, Heather Jones and Mike Stevens appeared in the program, and Geraint Jarman's voice is heard reading a poem. The ‘Etifeddiaeth drwy’r Mwg’ programme was an experiment for St David's Day. Here is part of the description in the catalog: "an Experiment for St. David's Day to Introduce the Pop Music Style into Folk Singing in the Form of Opera". Production called "inheritance Through the Smoke". The words were by Geraint Jarman, and the music was composed by Meic Stevens. The first song is sung by Heather Jones, the second song by Mike Stevens. 1 film reel (10 min.): Black and white; 16mm. (NLW 99240929102419).

Sachliain a Lludw 1971

Hefin Wyn in his book 'Be Bop a Lula'r Delyn Aur' (Y Lolfa 2002) mentions that one of the songs on Meic Stevens' record, 'Diolch yn Fawr' is the signature tune of a show that Meic was associated with at the Bangor National Eisteddfod, 1971 called ‘Sachliain a Lludw’ ('Sackcloth and ashes'). The psychedelic show was staged by Cwmni Theatr Cymru and featured Meic Stevens, Heather Jones and the band ‘Tebot Piws’.

Melltith ar y Nyth 1975 and Celwydd

Gillian Elisa’s CD ‘Haul ar nos hir’ (Sain, 1999) contains three songs from the musical ‘Melltith ar y Nyth’ by Endaf Emlyn and Hywel Gwynfryn, namely ‘Gollyngaf Di’ , ‘Yr Alaw’ and ‘Tu Draw’. It also contains two songs from the musical ‘Celwydd’ by Cefin Roberts, Tim Baker, Catrin Edwards and Valmai Jones for Theatr Bara Caws namely ‘Tada a Mama’ and ‘Celwydd’.

Heledd 1975 and Yr Anwariaid 1976

Tecwyn Ifan's first album 'Y Dref Wen', (Sain 1977), contains songs from two shows, "Heledd", performed at Felin-fach, Easter, 1975 and "Yr Anwariaid" [The Barbarians], Aber-porth, Summer 1976.

A select list of Welsh Musicals and rock opera, 1970-2009

  • 1970 Etifeddiaeth Drwy’r Mwg
  • 1971 Sachliain a Lludw  
  • 1974 Nia Ben Aur – Carmarthen National Eisteddfod, 1974
  • 1975 Melltith ar y Nyth – words by Hywel Gwynfryn; music by  Endaf Emlyn , with the singer Gillian Elisa.
  • 1975 Heledd – Tecwyn Ifan . Performed at Felin-fach.
  • 1976 Yr Anwariaid – Tecwyn Ifan . Performed at Aberporth.
  • 1977 Ffantasmagoria by Rhys Jones and Bob Roberts . Theatr Clwyd / Wrexham National Eisteddfod.  
  • 1985 Ceidwad y Gannwyll – words by Robin Llwyd ab Owain; music by Robat Arwyn and Sioned Williams; Rhyl National Eisteddfod ,1985
  • 1987 Rhys a Meinir - Robin Llwyd ab Owain; performed at Corwen Pavillion and , Theatr John Ambrose, Rhuthun.
  • 1996. Iarlles y Ffynnon by Robin Llwyd ab Owain.
  • 1997 Er Mwyn Yfory – words by Penri Roberts; music by Robat Arwyn
  • [1989 Urdd Eisteddfod] Jac Tŷ Isha by Caryl Parry Jones and Hywel Gwynfryn
  • 2000. 'Culhwch ac Olwen' by Rhiannon Ifans
  • 2001 Adlais o'r Sêr - music and words by Robat Arwyn,  Robin Llwyd ab Owain and others.
  • 2003.  Dŵr' A show about the history of Tryweryn by Bethan Bryn and Jeremy Turner performed at Gŵyl Gerdd Dant Aberystwyth.
  • 2003 Pwy bia'r Gân? - script and lyrics by Robin Llwyd ab Owain.
  • 2009 Clymau by Eilir Owen Griffiths and Ceri Elen

What do we have in the archives?

Here are some examples of papers relating to rock operas and musicals found in our archives. Further details can be found on NLW Archives and Manuscripts
Search the Catalogue for other formats e.g. CDs, books, photographs, and material from the Screen and Sound Archive.

Archif sioeau cerdd Cymru: (Archive of Welsh Musicals)

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A collection of scripts and lyrics of musicals (originals and adaptations) performed in Wales at various National Eisteddfod and the Urdd Eisteddfod in North Wales, including:

  • 'Ffantasmagoria',  
  • 'Olifar',  
  • 'Streic!',  
  • 'Wilco',
  • 'Inc yn y gwaed',
  • 'Hersprê' and  
  • 'Y seren ddwyfol'.  

Aled Lloyd Davies wrote most of the words. Also includes 10 CD/DVD-Rom. 1 box. Ref: NLW ex 2863.

Papurau Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru: (National Eisteddfod of Wales Papers: Plays, Pageants and Musicals)

[National Eisteddfod of Wales Papers: Plays, Pageants and Musicals]

Original and unknown play scripts, adaptations of popular plays, commissioned plays and children's shows. They were mainly performed in acting competitions at the National Eisteddfod by amateur drama companies or on the festival stage.

  • Hei di ho, 1985. Rhyl National Eisteddfod children's show script, 1985. The libretto by Aled Lloyd Davies.
  • Wŷ mewn picil, 1996. Dinefwr and District National Eisteddfod children's show script, 1996. The libretto by Janet Aethwy and Siwan Jones.
  • Melangell, 2003. Children's show. Libretto by Tudur Dylan Jones. Performed at the Meifod National Eisteddfod, 2003.
  • Mistar Jones, 1997. The script and score of the children's musical performed at the Meirion and District Eisteddfod, 1997. The libretto by Aled Lloyd Davies and the music by Aled Lloyd Davies.
  • Er mwyn yfory, 1997. The script of the musical, the libretto by Penri Roberts and Derec Williams. It was first performed at the Meirion and District National Eisteddfod in 1997.

Minutes of the Rhyl Eisteddfod, 1985 discussing the Opera Roc  (FF/252)

The Compositions and adjudications (Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau) of the National Eisteddfod include the following:

  • 2003 Musical compositions. Musical style song (GMC / 1)
  • 2004 Musical compositions. Musical style song (GCD / 1)
  • 2005 Musical compositions. Musical style song (GEC / 1)
  • 2005 Drama and Film. Writing a specific musical (GEC / 7)
  • 2006 Musical compositions. Musical style song (GAC / 1)
  • 2006 Drama and film, Writing a musical (GAL / 5)
  • 2007 Musical compositions. Musical style song (GFC / 1)
  • 2015 Musical compositions. Musical (Musician's Trophy). (GTC / 1)

Dramâu Emyr Edwards [Plays by Emyr Edwards]

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Emyr Edwards is a writer of plays and musicals, as well as an authority on theatre. He was the founder and director of the Urdd Theatre Company. He was the principal examiner for A level Drama with WJEC for twenty-five years. The papers include bound volumes containing scripts of his plays and his translations of plays, 1973-2015. Also, a volume compiled in 2014, comprising photographs, programmes and reviews relating to the performances of the Urdd National Youth Theatre, 1973-88.
Works include:

  • Diwrnod mawr ym Merthyr (musical), 1978.
  • Jiwdas Iscariot, 1979. Musical published by Gwasg Christopher Davies in 1979.
  • Penderyn, 1982. A musical produced for Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.
  • Senghenydd (musical), 1983.
  • Chicago (musical), 1985.
  • Merch y blodau, 1985. A rock opera commissioned for the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.
  • Y bont (musical), 1985.
  • Trafferth lawr yn Tseina, 1987. A rock opera written as a commission for the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Merthyr Tydfil in 1987.
  • Pasiant y peiriannau (musical), 1987. A pageant commissioned for the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Merthyr Tydfil in 1987.
  • Elfis (musical), 1988.
  • Kitch, 1989. A musical commissioned by Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.
  • Cwlwm, 1991. A rock opera commissioned for the Urdd National Eisteddfod in Taff Ely in 1991.
  • Mewn cadwyni, Rock opera (musical drama), commissioned for Mid Glamorgan Youth Theatre, 1992.
  • Guernica (musical), 1992.
  • Branwen, 1992. A musical play commissioned for Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, 1992.
  • Dan bach Pontypridd, 1993. A musical commissioned by the children of Ysgol Gymraeg Pontypridd.
  • Bracchi, 1996. A musical commissioned by Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen.
  • Nye, 1997. A musical commissioned by the Urdd Gobaith Cymru National Eisteddfod, Islwyn, in 1997.
  • Byd islaw'r bont, 1998. A musical commissioned by Glantaf Comprehensive School.
  • Via Dolorosa, 1999. A musical originally written for performance at Bethlehem Church, Gwaelod y Garth, Pentyrch.
  • Antur Maes y Mynydd, 1999. A musical commissioned by Ysgol Pencae, Cardiff.
  • Codi'r llenni (a collection of various songs), 1999.
  • Cyffro yn y cwm, 2000. A musical commissioned for the special celebrations of the Welsh Schools in the Rhondda.
  • Gwragedd Guernika, 2006. A musical play commissioned by Trinity College, Carmarthen.
  • Brwydr y bais, 2009. A musical specially produced in 2009 for the Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf Theatre Company, Cardiff.
  • Yn y bwlch (musical), 2012.
  • Mair (musical), [2013]-[2015].
  • Magdalen (musical), 2017.

Archifau'r Bwrdd Ffilmiau Cymraeg [Welsh Film Board]

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  • 38/4 - Administrative papers, correspondence, November 1974-April 1977, re films, grant for 'Nia Ben Aur'.
  • 9/1 - Correspondence, May 1972-April 1980, including payment of bills, estimates, details of Arts Council of Wales grant towards the production of 'Nia Ben Aur', January 1974.

Papurau Rhydwen Williams [Papers of Rhydwen Williams]

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Papurau Gilmor Griffiths – [Papers of Gilmor Griffiths]

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Babouscka, 1983. Screenplay by Vera Griffiths, lyric and music by Gilmor Griffiths. An adaptation of the Russian fable, for a musical at Ysgol Hiraddug, Dyserth. Scripts, full score in scrapbook, sketches and notes. Music includes: 'Babouscka'; 'Knowledge is a wonderful thing'; ‘Hwyrgân yr Hydref’; 'The Kings' and 'Parents are so square'.

Earthfall Dance Company Archives

Search the Earthfall Dance Company Archives

The Earthfall Dance Company papers, include material relating to stage productions, residential workshops and tours, e.g.

  • Gig’ chronicles the turbulent events in the life of a rock band, incorporating dance, live music and film. Items comprise printed theatre programmes, tour programme and flyers; creative notes and stage notes/directions; and musical score, 2009-2010.

Two musicals / Dwy Sioe Gerdd

The Two musicals / Dwy Sioe Gerdd papers

Culhwch ac Olwen' and 'Dŵr'. NLW ex 2839 musical manuscript excerpt: 'Culhwch ac Olwen' [by Rhiannon Ifans], 2000; and 'Dŵr' [a show about the history of Tryweryn by Bethan Bryn and Jeremy Turner performed at Aberystwyth's Cerdd Dant Festival, 2003], with some  ‘cerdd dant’ settings.

Urdd Gobaith Cymru

John Stoddart Papers

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File containing translations (words only), 1988-1997, with some relevant notes about an Opera, oratorio and musical (1/1/6)
A file containing the words of the Musical and operetta, 1996-1998 translations of the National Eisteddfod, 1987-2001.