Pontardawe and District Operatic Societies


Also see Saron (Rhydyfro) Operatic Society below

See also  Picture Gallery (Pontardawe 6)

I have extracted these details from an undated newspaper cutting.
(Colin Richards tells me that he thinks it was in 1938 or 1939 - his uncle, Ross Richards, a well known singer in the Swansea valley, and a former member of the Carl Rosa Opera Company, took the main part of the Mikado, and Colin's  father, Oswald Richards, who also had a fine voice, is listed in the article as a member of the men's chorus.)  

Pontardawe Operatic Society

Presentation of the Mikado

Successful First Venture

It is not often that a newly formed operatic society undertakes for its first presentation, a work of such quality as Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado', but members of the Pontardawe Society were ambitious enough to feel that they could do ample justice to this comic opera, which for many years has appealed to all lovers of music.

And their ambitions were realised to the full; for the Society gave a presentation of 'The Mikado' that would have been hard to beat in any of the larger provincial towns of the country.

.......................the president of the Society is Mr Charles G Gilbertson JP........joint hon. secretaries were Mr E P Hopkin of Smithfield, Pontardawe, and Mr Idris Jones of Brecon Rd, Pontardawe.............Mr E Thissen was producer....... Mr Trevor Davies of Clydach was musical director......... Mr Percy Chapman was the accompanist.

The cast list was;

  • Mr Ross Richards (Ystalyfera) - Mikado of Japan
  • Mr Rees Davies (Rhydyfro) - Nanki-Poo
  • Mr Ernest Davies (Clydach) - Ko-Ko
  • Mr Arthur Gwyn Davies - Pooh-Bah
  • Miss Hetty Rees (Clydach) - Yum-Yum
  • Miss Gertie Francis - Pitti-Sing
  • Miss M G Jones - Peep-Bo
  • Mr Stanford Thomas - Pish-Tush
  • Madame Sally Davies (formerly Brynamman) - Katisha
  • Master David Price - page boy
  • Plus chorus of ladies and gentlemen

In the article all the principals are praised for fine performances but to give an example I will quote fully the section that relates to my uncle Rees Davies (Rhys Tirbach) from Rhydyfro (originally  Cwmgors).

"Nanki-Poo, the Mikado's son, first seen as a wandering minstrel, sang his way into the hearts of all. Mr Rees Davies is a singer of rare quality, and although the demands made on him were many, he rose to the occasion each time. Especially good was he in the recitative, 'And have I journeyed for a month' sung with Pooh-Bah, and the duet 'Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted' sung with Yum-Yum..."

The choruses also came in for fine praise and they are listed here.

Ladies chorus;

  • Mrs Trevor Davies, Mrs Danny Davies, Mrs Iestyn Davies, Mrs John Morgan, Mrs W J Loyd
  • Mrs Tal James, Mrs A G Rees, Mrs M Davies, Mrs J J Harries, Mrs W Beresford
  • The Misses Annie Jenkins, V Giddings, B Lewis, G Joseph, E Williams, Mary Jones, P Phillips, Annie Williams, N Davies, J Davies, and R Lewis

Men's chorus;

  • Ogwin Williams, Glyn Price, Rees Morgan, Davie james, Eynon Davies, Evan davies, W Extance, Tom james, Oswald Richards, Wm H Davies, Syd Davies, D W Thomas, Lew Jenkins, W Beresford and Richard Cooper.

The orchestra was complimented on its splendid playing, the members names are not extracted here although listed in the article, they were also members of the Swansea Festival Orchestra.

The article concludes;

"The performances were of the first order, and one trusts that this will not be the last appearance of a society that promises to do much to to improve the culture of Pontardawe and district.


Saron (Rhydyfro) Operatic Society

Extract from an undated newspaper article (but see above).

Esther the Beautiful Queen

A Capital performance

In undertaking the presentation (at the Public Hall, Pontardawe)  of the sacred cantata 'Esther the Beautiful Queen' (by William B Bradbury)  the Saron, Rhydyfro, Operatic Society revealed ambitious desires, for the work is one that demands good individual singing and acting and a blending of the union choruses.

That it was portrayed in so able and convincing a manner is a tribute to the society; and their performance, without any exaggeration, can be labelled first class.

Two of the characters were outstanding.........Miss Hettie Rees of Clydach fulfilled the role of Esther ...... in almost 'the manner born'........Mr W H Davies of Ynismeudw portrayed Haman......created the most favourable impression................... with Mr A Gwyn Davies of Trebanos ......doing exceedingly well in the role of King Ahaseurus, a meticulous portrayal.......the same can be said for Mr Rees Davies of Rhydyfro who enacted Mordecai the Jew, the possessor of a more than useful tenor voice he can look back with pride on his share of the entertainment........Madame Annie Smith, also of Rhydyfro portrayed Zeresh wife of Haman and her rich contralto was one of the features of the evening..

Other cast members to be complimented were  Madam J Phillips of Rhydyfro, Mr Edwin Clement of Rhydyfro, Mr Sid Jenkins of Rhydyfro, Miss Winnie Jones of Rhydyfro, Miss Esther Ann Rees of Rhydyfro, Mr Ezer James of Rhydyfro, and Mr S James.

The chorus and orchestra were also complimented on fine performances.
The latter comprised David Price, S Sammals, W Kersey, David Davies, T Jones, A Palmer, C Francis and J Carpenter.

The Chairman, the Rev Idwal Jones, pastor of Saron, to which cause the proceeds were to be donated, thanked the audience in the interval. The chairman of the committee was Mr David Davies of Llyscoed, treasurer Mr Evan Williams of Baily Glas, and secretary Mr Edwin Clement of Glannant. ...