Do you live with or near a scene-stealing garden gnome?

Swansea City Opera and the Wales-wide charity Men’s Shed Cymru have launched a competition to find Wales’ Best Garden Gnome in the run-up to the Welsh tour of a new chamber opera, Shoulder to Shoulder, based on the stories of members of Men’s Sheds Cymru.

The competition will run from October until Sunday, November 5.

The competition is inspired by an ordinary garden gnome - Mr Gnome - who began his opera career as a prop, going on to become an unofficial cast member, appearing with singers who have performed with leading opera companies, including Glyndebourne Festival Opera, ENO, Welsh National Opera, and opera houses, including the Royal Opera House. The opera’s ensemble has played with leading orchestras, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Soprano Jessica Robinson, who plays Gwen, was a finalist in 2023’s prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Previous competitors include singers such as Sir Bryn Terfel. The moving, inspiring, and often laugh-out-loud opera, created by librettist Brendan Wheatley and composer Lenny Sayers (BBC National Orchestra of Wales), was developed from the company’s partnership with Men’s Shed Cymru. The charity is part of the worldwide Shed movement, founded in Australia, that helps develop grassroots social groups. The opera’s plot is rooted in the stories of Welsh Shedders.

Busy young mum Gwen is at her wits end with her dad, Rhys, who’s hitting the whisky having lost his wife and son.

Bereaved and lonely, Rhys reluctantly joins his local Men’s Shed.

Experienced Shedders, Dai, Ioan, and Charlie, with difficult stories of their own, show Rhys the ropes… woodworking, garden gnomes, and where the tea bags live…

Shoulder to Shoulder is touring between November 11 and 25 to venues in Brecon (Saturday, November 11, Theatr Brycheiniog); Neyland, Pembrokeshire (Wednesday, November, 15 Bethesda Baptist Church); Rhyl (Friday, November 17, Rhyl Little Theatre); Cardiff (Tuesday, November 21, Tramshed); Pontypridd (YMa); Abertillery (Thursday 23 November, Llanhilleth Institute) and Lisvane (Saturday, November 25, Lisvane Memorial Hall).

How to enter:

Simply send a photograph of your garden gnome, their name, and where they live to e[email protected] Closing date: Sunday, November 5.

The cast of Shoulder to Shoulder will take a break from rehearsals to pick the winner. The winning Mr or Ms Gnome will be celebrated widely on social media.

The winner will receive a pair of tickets for a performance of Shoulder To Shoulder at a venue of their choice.

Swansea City Opera and Men’s Sheds Cymru wish all entrants pop lwc/good luck!