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Blue plaque at Llandaff North home of Welsh Opera founder

Plaque of Idloes Owen

A BLUE plaque has been put up in Llandaff North at the former home of the founder of the Welsh National Opera who held the group’s first meeting there.

The plaque, which is located on 40 Station Road, Llandaff North, bears the name of Idloes Owen who founded the company in 1943 and lived at the property.

The event featured a variety singing acts from Ysgol Glan Ceubal, Hawthorne Primary School and Ysgol Glantaf. The event was concluded with a solo by Sian Meinir, a mezzo soprano with the Welsh National Opera choir.

Unveiling of the plaque on 40 Station Road

Unveiling of the plaque on 40 Station Road

The plaque was unveiled by the Welsh National Opera’s honorary president, Mathew Prichard.

Deputy Lord Mayor Georgina Phillips said “It was wonderful to see so many people here and it’s terrific that they were able to bring some of the children here as well.

“It’s so wonderful to know that the Welsh National Opera was started in Llandaff North.

I think it’s something that a lot of people were not aware of, because for all of us, the Welsh National Opera is so important. It was well attended and everyone enjoyed it. It’s been a wonderful afternoon.”

Hawthorne Primary School performing 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King' from Disney's The Lion King

Hawthorne Primary School performing ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ from Disney’s The Lion King

The event was part of the Llandaff North Festival, which organises events in the district. The festival aims to create a community spirit in through cultural events.

Norman Gettings, Treasurer of Llandaff North Festival said that he was unaware of Idloes’s connection.

“I was surprised by the response that we got on social media and the number of people who know of Idloes Owen and of his connections to Llandaff North and to the Welsh National Opera,” he said.

“In one of our discussions for the festival, it was mentioned that this was the home of Idloes Owen. Song and music are very important to Wales, so we did a bit of research and decided it would great for Llandaff North to get its first blue plaque.”

Idloes Owen was born in 1894 and moved to Cardiff, where he was part of the pre-war singing group,  the Lyrian Singers.

The location of Idoles Owen's music shop

The location of Idoles Owen’s music shop

It is said he owned and ran a music shop in Cardiff, called Rowlands Music in the High Street Arcade, a site currently occupied by The New York Deli.

John Richardson, who is volunteer archivist for Welsh National Opera said “The first meeting for the Welsh National Opera was actually in this house. Back then it took a few years to rehearse a large number of people to put operas together.

“The first performance was in 1946. It was a through Idloes and a friend of his named Victor Fleming, who got together to create local interest and they rehearsed a couple of times a week in local chapels.

“People had to pay a sixpence to join, or a guinea a year to become a member. Idloes was an established figure in the Cardiff music scene. Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see the company grow into what it’s become”

Councillor for Llandaff North, Dilwar Ali said: “This is really exciting for me as a councillor that we recognise one Llandaff North’s heroes. Myself and my colleagues are so pleased to have founded this plaque here and that the community has come together to see it here.”

The Welsh National Opera are currently looking for anyone who may be related to Idloes Owen in order to let them know of the wonderful legacy that he left behind.

“We would be delighted to find any blood links with Idloes and his wife.” said John

“He died in 1954 after quite a long illness and he’s just disappeared. Bringing his name up again is brilliant for Welsh National Opera.”

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