A musical film adaptation of a famous Welsh language novel has been commissioned by Channel 4 and S4C, in a national TV first.

Un Nos Ola Leuad ("One Moonlit Night)the iconic 1961 semi-autobiographical novel by Caradog Prichard, will be brought to life by Afanti Media and OPRA Cymru in "a ground-breaking blend of opera and film", it was announced today at the Wales Screen Summit.

The "unique" new work, by acclaimed Welsh director Marc Evans (House of America, Resurrection Man), will be broadcast to global audiences. The opera was written by Welsh composer Gareth Glyn.

Un Nos Ola Leuad is a powerful and courageous novel, and one of Britain’s most significant pieces of literature," said Llinos Griffin- Williams, Chief Content Officer at S4C.

"We are thrilled to see Caradog Prichard’s work adapted by the talented Marc Evans in its native language.

"Loyalty and betrayal, hope and despair - the story is a captivating and sinister piece of work we hope will delight global audiences and bring a new perspective to the classic.

"Channel 4 continues to be an excellent creative partner for S4C as we venture on another exciting collaboration.” 

The story, set in the 1920s, centres on Caradog Pritchard's relationship with his mother, who suffered hardship and mental illness following his father's death.

A teenager, Pritchard takes his mother to the local asylum, from which she would not emerge for the rest of her life.

"Despite its setting at the end of World War One, this timeless work covers themes of poverty and mental health and continues to be powerfully relevant today," said Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer at Channel 4.

"Un Nos Ola Leuad will be the first Welsh language opera ever broadcast on British TV, and is a brilliant example of the kind of distinctive public service programming that a purpose-driven publicly owned Channel 4 can deliver.”

The screenplay, written in Cymraeg by Marc Evans, is based on an opera previously produced by OPRA Cymru, Patrick Young and Iwan Teifion Davies.

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It plays out over two "time zones" – the boy’s childhood years, when he is made to feel guilty for his mother’s suffering, and some thirty years later, when he returns to the asylum at the time of her death.

The film will touch on social issues - single motherhood, life on the breadline, the oppressive censure of a close-knit and judgmental community - that are still resonant to this day.

“I am not an opera buff, but I came to this project with an open mind and was inspired," Mr Evans said.

"By listening to the music and diving into the world of Un Nos Ola Leuad, it struck me that the dream-like combination of myth and memory evoked by the book is perfectly suited to a musical, cinematic interpretation.”

The cast will be a combination of established Welsh opera stars and new, up-and-coming talent, with a score performed by the Welsh National Opera orchestra.

Further funding for the project is being sought by Ffilm Cymru and Creative Wales.

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