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Opera in Ireland - general discussion thread on all things opera in Ireland



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

    Thanks for all your fascinating comments.

    Zefirelli productions are always spectacular, if a bit over the top. A bit too detailed for comfort sometimes. And someone should tell him that not EVERY opera requires horses and elephants. During one week in London I saw two productions at CG. Zefirelli's Cav and Pag, and Ponelle's Italiana in Algieri. The contrast was very telling. Zef was realistic down to the last bit of straw in the peasants' hair, and Ponelle was exquisite and stylized. Quite devine.

    Maria Guleghina is a great performer (I won't say great singer as her technique is a bit shaky to say the least, but she's very thrilling). I've seen her live on a number of occasions, in Aida, Il Trovatore and Nabucco, but never in Turandot. I've only ever seen Turandot live once, at CG, and got to hear Gwyneth Jones who wobbled her way through the whole thing.

    I am actually quite curious about FvS, but I'm not free on Thursday. Farewell recitals are not always bad - it depends how past their sell-by date the particular singer is. In about 1995 I went to a Christa Ludwig farewell recital and it was absolutely unforgettable.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Sandwich wrote: »
    Throw me out if I'm taking your thread outside its intended purpose.

    But what are the views here on the change to state funding of opera as seems to be intended: merging the 3 opera companies, base in Wexford, full productions limited outside that to Dublin etc. Each of the companies seems to be squeeling "they dont understand the situation, dont cut us, we are already cut to the bone, save elsewhere" etc (but then, what section of the ecomony isnt singing the same aria?).

    Sandwich absolutely welcome veiws! The thread was started to initiate any chat about things operatic in Ireland - trying to sustain different operatic threads is pretty difficult and your thoughts are more than welcome. I think the move to merge all three opera companies with a single focussed company in Wexford is not a good step forward for opera in ireland.

    Wexford has said they are very against as it will dilute the festival, Opera Ireland are against it as it will move them from their spiritual Dublin Grand Opera Society base of ...Dublin and Opera Theatre Company the most stimulating and creative opera company in the country are being squeezed out.

    Wexford needs to be left alone. The future of Opera Ireland is open to debate - largely because of the personnel in charge there - the current "Artistic" Director Dieter Kaegi is a disaster, and needs to be fired. If a national opera company is to survive in Ireland we need to look north and sit down with the UK arts council to see if we can forge a company that can be jointley funded by both the UK and Irish Arts council and be a true Opera Ireland company - modelled on the two smaller UK regional opera companies - Opera North based in Leeds and Scottish Opera, based in Glasgow.

    When was the last time Opera Ireland played outside Dublin? They are still the Dublin Grand Opera Society and are a rather pathetic little organisation.

    Music knows no borders so the usual North South bull**** can be thrown out the window. The person I would invite to be President of this new company is David Trimble - the ex Unionist leader now in the Lords and an absolute devotee of opera and if needs be I would headquarter the company in Belfast; although I can see the merits of Wexford due to the facilities.

    For this company I would aim to have three seasons a year - late Spring early summer - say for three weeks in last two weeks in May first in June, late Autumn (where they are now in November) and Late January/early Feb.

    The aim would be to do six operas a year - touring the same productions to Belfast, Dublin, Cork and include Wexford Opera House - for both or at least one of the Spring and Winter season.

    Each season would open in each city in rotation. Depending on demand I would see something like five nights in Belfast with 3 nights of the more popular opera each season and two of the less popular seller. The same in Dublin and seasons for four nights in Cork of two and two.

    This would give 5 nights Belfast, 5 nights Dublin and 4 nights Cork - spread out a bit a 3 week season three times a year.

    And one season (probably Spring) in Wexford (maybe no Cork season then).

    The repertoire would be mainstream for at least five of the operas - stepping into more adventurous territory at least once a year.

    I would try and build the company as a repertoiry company with "house singers and performers drawn as much as possible from Ireland - we has some amazing young singing talent in this country which should be nurtured by the national opera company.

    For the size of our country I think this is the best we could hope for - Regarding Opera Theatre Company - they are the most creative opera company in the country - I would bring in their management and creative team to manage and run this new touring opera ireland company and amalgamate the two. This would give us a true national opera company performing in different parts of the country.#

    Anyway some food for thought there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    I woudl add to my post above - 2 new productions a year - 2 co-productions (or bought in from another company) a year and 2 revivals a year - and keep productions for about five years - recycling on no more than a bi-annual basis.

    I would steer clear of operas that really do need the Grand opera approach - eg Aida

    I would ensure that every year the company does a mainstream from Puccini, Verdi and Mozart (plenty to keep them busy and puts bums on seats) 1 czech or russian opera year (again from the mainstream repertoire) 1 early piece per annum (from mainstream repertoire - Handel Monteverdi etc), and one 20th piece post Puccini. (1923).

    This would give a very balanced opera going experience for opera goers in Ireland -

    With the right heads knocked together at Government Arts Sports and Tourism levels and Arts Councils both sides of the border I reckon this could just be a model for success.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    I am posting this up a bit late (monday evening), Opera Irelands Autumn season kicked off last saturday night it might be worth reading Michael Dervan in The Times last saturday to sum up the parlance state in which opera finds itself - Imust send Michael my alternative plan:

    Things really don't look good for opera in Ireland and if the current plan to get rid of OTC goes ahead it will indeed be a sad day for opera in ireland, I only hope OTC debunks to the North and keeps itself together under the UK arts council.

    Anyway this week we have both Macbeth (not seen a review yet) staged and a concert Rheingold, I am going to Rehingold Thursday and Macbeth Friday and Rheingold again Saturday. We shall see.

    Macbeth: 14 / 16 / 18 / 20 / 22 November 2009

    Rheingold: 19 / 21 November 2009

    Michael Dervans Irish times review can be read here

    Not awe-inspiring by any accounts but the Lady Macbeth sounds promising - I am glad I have booked the cheap seats on the side balcony, Dieter Kaegi as ever cannot be trusted to deliver anything inspirational.

    Aria of the week: Just look at this concert performance of "Nel di della vitoria" with Callas in a concert performance in the 1950s sheer magic!!! May not be perfect but it is the perfect imperfections that made this woman such an icon of the twentieth century - Madonna eat your heart out. you will be forgotten when this woman is still being listened to in space stations 300 years from now.

    Opera in cinema go to!A406

    Cosi fan tutti in Dundrum, Swords and Dungarvan on 21st November and IMC dundalk and Athlone on 23rd November.

    in the Gaiety theatre bar OI are offering a lunctime of arias - a sandwich and soup and a few coluraturas chirping away all for 15 euro - I might give it a whirl if it is on Friday. 014786041

    Rathmines adn Rathgar Musical society are putting on HMS Pinafore in the NCH all week - not my cup of tea G&S but I give them a mention for those into it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    I can't make it to Rheingold on Thirsday - I have a spare ticket in the side balcony only 15 euro if anyone is interested please send me a pm - would need to get it in the post by Wednesday (today afternoon)

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,253 ✭✭✭Sandwich

    Hands down victory for the Rheingold.

    Macbeth, despite the staging, and a good effort from Lady Macbeth was very lacklustre. Rest of the cast mediocre, chorus very amateur. Looked quite well though.

    Top stuff from all contributors in Das Rheingold. Good performances made it more gripping and dramatic despite the flatness of the concert performance restrictions. Concert Orchestra sounded very well.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

    Sandwich wrote: »
    Hands down victory for the Rheingold.

    Top stuff from all contributors in Das Rheingold. Good performances made it more gripping and dramatic despite the flatness of the concert performance restrictions. Concert Orchestra sounded very well.

    I had to laugh at Michael Dervan's review:
    I quote: "Our operatic life is seriously deficient in the case of that towering giant of the 19th century, Richard Wagner, a man whose legacy still rumbles not just in musical but also in political and other circles."

    If that were the only deficiency in Ireland's operatic life, we'd all be very happy.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

  • Hosted Moderators Posts: 5,555 ✭✭✭tSubh Dearg

    I just found out the other day that the new Swan cinema that's opening in Rathmines will be showing the Met concerts. Apparently the first one will be Le Contes D'Hoffmann on the 19th December, which is the day after they open.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Sandwich wrote: »
    Hands down victory for the Rheingold.

    Macbeth, despite the staging, and a good effort from Lady Macbeth was very lacklustre. Rest of the cast mediocre, chorus very amateur. Looked quite well though.

    Top stuff from all contributors in Das Rheingold. Good performances made it more gripping and dramatic despite the flatness of the concert performance restrictions. Concert Orchestra sounded very well.

    Sandwich, agree with you about Rheingold - it was really first class and they had assembled an excellent cast in partiuclar loge, Macbeth staging for me was as ever with Dieter Kaegi somewhat baffling interestin in parts will write more later - just back in north west afterflood delayed drive home.

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

    westtip wrote: »

    Aria of the week: Just look at this concert performance of "Nel di della vitoria" with Callas in a concert performance in the 1950s sheer magic!!! May not be perfect but it is the perfect imperfections that made this woman such an icon of the twentieth century

    I've watched this concert many times. It's indeed fascinating, but not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The background to this concert is that Callas was suffering from a very bad cold at the time and actually wanted to cancel, but she went ahead with it against her better judgement as she didn't want another hullabaloo in the press. That's why the last aria in the concert, from I Puritani, is so mangled as she couldn't sing any of the high notes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Folks sorry have not sustained my weekly operatic bulletin, strayed off for a week to rant and rave in another part of about a totally unrelated subject.

    Alas it seems all the fears about Aida at the O2 were fulfilled, I just think it is such a great pity that so many peoples view of opera will have been tarnished by events last Friday. I for one was certainly not there, and my views of the event beforehand are recorded on the colossol Aida thread.

    Please if you really want to try opera for the first time then don't believe the advertising for an event like this - and read whats written on this thread beforehand people like jonyblackrock and Sandwich and I hope myself will give you the benefit of our many opera going years.

    Anyway I left off about two weeks ago having just about made it back to the North West from a visitation to Das Kapital to see our national opera company (who never perform out of the Capital) in two variable performances. Here is my take on what I saw two weeks ago:


    Lets get the horror story over first. This was OIs one “staged” performance of the two they put on last week, I too share the same trepidation of Michael Dervan when approaching any operatic experience under the direction of Dieter Kaegi; my usual fear is to come out the theatre angry and the absurdity he throws at us. I have ceased being angry with Mr. Kaegi, the only rage I now have is the persistence OI have in allowing this gentlemen to waste what resources the company has upon his self indulgences.

    So what was the deliverance this time? The production as ever is interwoven with every cliché post modernist operatic production cliché he can bring in.

    Once more we have the hierarchy of militarism coming from the Trotskyite revolution – of course with each member of the senior camp of men donning their Leninist working hero’s caps. We know that Macbeth had returned from war not by his own entry but by the entry of his kit bag thrown across the stage – followed by the soon to be assassin himself. As a senior military hero in true Leninist style he carries his own bag.

    The arrival of Duncan with son Malcolm and Macduff is revealing – we know which one is Duncan because he is the one wearing the crown, it looked like one of those upmarket Christmas party hats as worn by Les Trois Roi then we get the star of the show appearing - the bleeding throne. A straight back Charles Rennie Mackintosh (the Scottish connection of course) in the centre of the stage which appears to have the stigmata, it is literally a bleeding piece of furniture. Mr Kaegi and his exotic symbolism of the blood connected with the position of the throne. What was the word I was thinking of: Corny. The throne continues to have bouts of stigmatic bleeding at various points during the evening.

    The damned lady was sung quite adequately by Canadian soprano Michele Capalbo, she wore the colour of blood throughout – and actually had some stunning red numbers to wear for her showpiece arias. She was well supported by the home grown talent of Bruno Caproni from Belfast in the role of the murderous husband. Other roles were adequate and acceptable for both OI and the size of the house.

    In Act 2 the banquet scene did not work.

    In Act 3 on the English border with displaced Scottish war refugees we are thrown into the standard vision of central European opera directors clichéd view of refugees: As ever these refugees carried the standard cardboard suitcases and looked like they had spent the years of 1940 – 45 in a combination of Stalingrad, on board refugee trains traversing Germany, Poland and Russia and of course as if they had just escaped from the Gulag. Once more the displaced of central Europe circa late 1945/ early 1946 appeared to represent the oppressed masses and refugees of war and conflict on an opera stage. How many times have I suffered this very same view of the oppressed masses on operatic stages in the past 30 years? Mr. Kaegi please come up with something new.

    I struggle with Macbeth as an opera, I certainly think it hangs less well together than Otello as an opera – and strangely for me as a theatre goer it is a piece I prefer to hear and see as a play, I feel quite the reverse about Othello and Otello. Give me the opera everyday of the week.

    Anyway I did not like this production and was glad I had only paid 25 Euro to sit in the sides of the upper balcony, which are astonishingly good value seats.

    Rheingold the following evening was a resounding success!!!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    A bit late posting this up bits and pieces at the cinema worth noting this link is worth going to for some long term stuff on the opera in cinema in ireland (excluding hte Met live broadcasts - next one of which is on December 19th)!A418

    Gaiety Cinema Bridgewater Centre, North Quay
    Arklow, Co. Wicklow LA TRAVIATA: 13/12 & 15/12

    I have yet to do a search on live opera this week - any posts up welcome!

    Ailish Tynan at the NCH on Friday in the Haydn Nelson Mass should appeal to the opera goers. I think she has a sweet voice, anyway she is a great personality and is very pretty to boot!

    Apart from this tis a bleak mid winter. Doubtless loads of Messiahs popping up in the next few weeks.

    Hallejulah as they might say.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,253 ✭✭✭Sandwich

    Very early heads up, but the Irish opera starved cling to any crumb of comfort.

    English Touring Opera in Belfast next April. Figaro, Don Pasquale, and Midsummer Night Dream in a quick visit.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Thanks Sandwich - interesting how much support touring opera companies are getting to come to Belfast - with Opera North last month and now this news.

    Yes it is a period drought at the moment, mind you not uncommon at this time of year with every auditorium filled with "its behind you" and "Oh no I didn't" mind you I do love a good panto.

    This Saturday is the another Met live broadcast in various cinemas - check out the OI website for the link to the methd broadcast - On Saturday it is Tales of Hoffman. Not able to go unfortunately due to the pre-Christmas family get together - hey thats life - we all have relations.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 PerriBlack

    With the drought of good home live productions in Ireland at this time of the year, at least there's a new production of Hoffmann to look forward to this weekend on Met Live.

    I saw the tenor Joseph Calleja in Adams' 'Si J'etais Roi' in the 1990's in Wexford - terrific voice even then.

    Cast list:

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Perri - I didn't get to Hoffman from the Met how was it?

    Re opera this week apart from endless Messiahs for those in need of vocal rejuvenation not much to report this week although Dundrum, Dungarvan and Swords have Il Trovatore in cinema go the link below for details about performances on 22nd December (Tuesday)!A434

    Actually this looks quite good! Its live from Barcelona. Il Trovatore, Verdi
    Live from the Gran Teatre del Liceu,
    December 22nd (in select locations)

    Here is the cast:

    Fiorenza Cedolins (Leonora)
    Marco Berti (Manrico)
    Luciana D'Intino (Azucena)
    Roberto Frontali (Conte Di Luna)
    Paata Burchuladze (Fernando)

    Unfortunately I can't make it but if anyone goes let us know what you think.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Happy new year to all opera going viewers of this thread.

    The first full week of the year has the following offerings.

    Opera Theatre Company has a fund raising concert at the NCH this Saturday 9th January all tickets are 50 Euro a throw. The concert is aimed at raising funds to help support OTC touring programme. If you can make it details of booking are at or call the NCH box office on 01 417 0000; not sure I will make it with the weather as it is for driving to Dublin.

    Clashing on the same night (bad timing OTC!) is the next Met Opera broadcast, all the Met Opera broadcasts are being promoted by OI and details of further broadcasts can be found on a link on the OI website, plus another cinema offering from the rival cinema in opera distributor.

    This Saturday its Richard Strauss's jewell in his operatic crown Der Rosenkavelier.

    James Levine conducts a stellar cast led by Renée Fleming as the Marschallin and Susan Graham as Octavian. Eric Cutler is the Italian Singer, Kristinn Sigmundsson sings the role of Baron Ochs, and Christine Schäfer is Sophie. HD host: Plácido domingo. At the following cinemas listed in the link below


    IMC Dun Laoghaire - 01 - 2301367 01 - 2301367 / (box office opens 21 September)

    The Screen,D'Olier Street - 0818 - 300301 /

    Swan Cinema Rathmines- 1520 880 007/ (contact box office for opening date)

    Beyond the Pale:

    Wexford Opera House - 053 - 912 2144 053 - 912 2144 / (box office opens 21 September)

    Cork Opera House - 021 - 427 0022 021 - 427 0022 / (box office opens 21 September)

    Eye Cinema Galway - 091 - 780 078 091 - 780 078 / (box office opens 23 September)

    Gaiety Cinema Sligo - 1520 - 927 011 / (box office opens 31 October)

    Northern Ireland:

    Storm Cinema, Belfast - 0044 - (0)28 - 907 39 134 0044 - (0)28 - 907 39 134 / (contact box office for opening date)

    Derry Omniplex - 0044 - (0)87 -172 00 400 / (box office opens 25 September)

    Newry Omniplex - 0044 - (0)87 -172 00 400 / (box office opens 25 September

    I urge our Dublin based Opera goers to try and support the OTC event - the cinema events are fine, but we all need to support live opera!!

    Also on January 9th in three cinemas we have Gounods Romeo et Juliette!A432

    Dungarvan, Swords and Dundrum a pre-recorded event from the Salzburg Festival


    Nino Machaidze (Juliette)
    Rolando Villazòn (Romèo)
    Mikhail Petrenko (Frère Laurent)
    Russell Braun (Mercutio)
    Cora Burggraaf (Stèphano)
    Falk Struckmann
    (Le Comte & Capulet)
    Juna Francisco Gatell (Tybalt)

    I urge our Dublin based Opera goers to try and support the OTC event - the cinema events are fine, but we all need to support live opera!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    Interesting piece in the Sunday Times magzine this week about the Met Opera shows at various cinemas, tried to find a link to it in Times on line but the article doesn't seem to be available. Interesting that Dieter Kaegi of OI commetned "The Danger of course is that people want to see three Met Porductions rather than one Opera Ireland production for the same money" Well we all know who's fault that is don't we dieter! would be my view. Anyway interesting he should be saying this when its OI most likely shooting themselves in the foot by promoting these events - in particular in Dublin. My guess is they are cannibalising OI audiences. Anyway I didn't get to Rosenkavelier on Saturday due to the weather - not sure if I will go to see the insuferable basket case Carmen next week either.

    OTC's show a the NCH was postponed due to the weather - not sure when it will happen will post up a date as and when.

    Don't think there is much happening operatically this week or at least no live opera - Carmen live broadcast on January 16th - although it is not 10 euro a ticket as the error in the sunday times said but 25 euro.

    The Omniplex in Wexford has Otello in a pre-recorded Cinema jobbie Omniplex Wexford Rosslare Road, Drinagh
    Wexford OTELLO: 12th January.

    This will also be showing at other cinemas later in the month depending on where you are around 18th/19th just look a this link for cinemas and dates:!A412

    OK so you want to be spoon fed: Dundrum Swords and Dungarvan actually next month on 13th Feb, IMC dundalk Athlone and Dunlaoghaire,

    Omniplex Galway Galway Retail Park
    Headford Road, Galway OTELLO: 1/17-1/18

    Omniplex Cork Mahon Point Shopping Centre
    Mahon, Co Cork OTELLO: 1/17-1/18

    Omniplex Carlow Hanover Shopping Centre,
    Carlow, Co Carlow OTELLO: 1/10 & 1/18
    I PURITANI: 1/11 - This is a new cinema on the lists for these events - in fact this puritani is marvelous and well worth going for Juan Diego florez Arturo

    these pre-recorded operatic showings are generally only 10 euro to get into (or at least thats what they charge in Athlone).

    I suppose for an opera starved public like those of us here in Ireland these cinema jobbies fill some cravings and it is a half decnete way of clocking up the repertoire for those that have not had the privelige of seeing say a live Otello.

    Here is the cast for Otello:

    Aleksandrs Antonenko (Otello)
    Marina Poplavskaya (Desdemona) - she is brilliant by the way!
    Carlos Alvarez (Jago)
    Barbara Di Castri (Emilia)
    Stephen Costello (Cassio)
    Antonello Ceron (Roderigo)
    Mikhail Petrenko (Lodovico)
    Simone Del Savio (Montano)

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

    I don't think they're shooting themselves in the foot.
    I am in favour of these screenings of opera in cinemas as it is a way to develop an audience with a taste for top class opera. Until all these started I honestly thought that nobody was interested in opera in Ireland, but as these screenings sell out it shows that that is not true. If there is an audience for top class opera in cinemas, then presumably there's an audience for top class opera in a theatre, if and when that ever happens. But hopefully the screenings will prove to the powers that be that there is an audience and they might even try to do something about it.

    My suggestion is to establish an "Arts Lottery" - a voluntary tax if you like, for those who are interested - which would help to fund it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,282 ✭✭✭westtip

    jonny yes I see your point and I welcome the screenings, but from a commercial point of view I have some niggling doubts about them - as far as OI is concerned. As you know I live in the stix so I really welcome the broadcasts in places like Sligo and Galway etc, lets have a positive mental attitude about them. My question about them possibly cannibalising the OI audience is that at 25 euro a throw, it's not just a night at the flicks, (the ten euro pre recorded shows are great value), and at 25 euro a throw some OI audience members may just say I will do three Met operas instead of one OI performance. On the whole though my view is they are a welcome initiative.

    The problem we have is that the artistic standards at OI in the past few years have dropped so much one has to question for the mainstream repertoire would you rather see a stellar cast in the cinema or a mediocre cast and poor production in the gaiety?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,253 ✭✭✭Sandwich

    I'm with JonnyBlackrock on this one.

    I think the cinema screenings are a great way to promote an interest in opera. To be honest, when they started I didnt think they would succeed - a few screenings a year in Dundrum and that would be about it. Yet they seem to be going from strength to strength. Which suggests to me that there are people going to them that rarely if ever attend a live opera. But I would be hopeful that having had their interest piqued by the easy transition to a cinema screen opera, they would be interested in going to a live one.

    The attendance and anecdotal tales of people upset by their first outing to an opera at the recent Aida debacle at the Point also seemed to indicate that there is an interest in going to live opera which our traditional companies (OTC included despite their fine efforts) do not seem to reach.

    The more people putting themselves in the way of opera attendance of some form the better the chance of increasing the interest in live performances. But its up to our live opera companies to exploit this and come up with a way to tap into this market : making live opera-going more a way of life in Ireland rather than just the rarest of treats.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 PerriBlack

    I'm also with JonnyBlackrock on this one. The way that the Met films and produces the broadcast is excellent, and gives a real taste of high quality opera. Still, there's nothing to beat a live experience, provided it is done well. I believe that the Met in cinemas (and Cork and Wexford Opera Houses) will only serve to increase the overall opera audience and tempt newcomers to the art.

    As Sandwich comments, the real challenge is to the opera companies to provide quality and interesting work at accessible prices.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15 PerriBlack

    Did anyone go to MetLiveHD Rosenkavalier? I didn't see it myself, but sorry I missed Renee Fleming and Susan Graham.



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,066 ✭✭✭Sandwlch

    From yesterday's Irish Times :

    Edited by DEIRDRE FALVEY

    ARTSCAPE: THE ARTS COUNCIL yesterday wrote to its clients about its grants for 2010. But one of those clients, Wexford Festival Opera, seems to have had a tip-off, writes Michael Dervan . The festival is in an upbeat mood, and last year’s gloom – which saw a contraction from 18 days to 12, and drop its strand of small-scale, ShortWorks, productions – has lifted.

    The good news is that next October’s festival will have an increased run of 15 days, with the extended fortnight running from October 16th to 30th. And artistic director David Agler has named the three main operas as Mercadante’s Virginia , first presented in Naples in 1866, Smetana’s Hubicka (The Kiss) , first seen in Prague in 1876, and Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket , a new work, coming to Wexford after its world première by Opera Theatre of St Louis in June.

    The extra days are not the only expansion. Agler says there will be “a return of a new version of the popular afternoon short opera performances” (previously called “ShortWorks”), the Dr Tom Walsh lecture will be restored, and other surprises will be announced later.

    It all looks like a brave move at a time when research shows Irish consumers are moving down-market and buying less. But then, Wexford is a premium brand, and it has a well-established track record for attracting opera lovers from abroad. And, in truth, the biggest risk is probably nothing to do with the expansion, nor even the change in policy which is seen in a repeat of The Kiss (presented in English in 1984, but this year to be sung in Czech). Instead, it is the inclusion of an opera, The Golden Ticket , by someone whose name is likely to be unfamiliar to most opera-goers. Peter Ash, its composer, and Donald Sturrock, its librettist, are the directors of Music Link International, a London-based organisation “dedicated to new music, new drama, and new audiences,” with a focus on “new works based on Roald Dahl’s stories, aimed at bringing new generations . . . into both concert hall and opera house”.

    The Golden Ticket is based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , and its librettist Donald Sturrock is also the author of the authorised biography of Roald Dahl that is due to be published in March. The Wexford production will be directed by James Robinson (who did last year’s Ghosts of Versailles ), with sets by Bruno Schwengl and costumes by Martin Pakledinaz.

    Music Link International’s website quotes Trevor Nunn praising the work’s ambitious imagination and attractive melodies, and Simon Rattle saying “It’s an impressive achievement, full of musical imagination, colour and invention. I love it. It should make the perfect family opera.” Whether families will be able to afford it at Wexford Festival ticket prices remains to be seen. Full details will come in late April, and booking will open on June 1st.

    Aside from this, opera has been generally in the air of late. A new, Dublin-based national opera company is to forge ahead under the aegis of the Minister for Arts, and the Arts Council’s proposed forced merger of the functions of Opera Ireland, Opera Theatre Company and Wexford Festival Opera now seems dead in the water. But another arts council, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI), has managed to succeed where its Dublin counterpart failed. ACNI has announced the creation of Opera Company NI. The new company, with Roy Bailie as chair, was incorporated in December, and will bring together “the best resources from Castleward Opera and Opera Fringe to form a robust new creative enterprise”. And to show it is serious, ACNI has put an extra £150,000 on the table as well as preserving the level of grants previously received by Castleward and Opera Fringe. Its other opera provision, of tours by Opera Theatre Company and Belfast visits of full-scale productions from Welsh National Opera, Opera North or Scottish Opera, will be unaffected by the new development.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,066 ✭✭✭Sandwlch

    Lucia di Lammermoor.
    Lyric Opera.
    May 22.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

    Sandwlch wrote: »
    Lucia di Lammermoor.
    Lyric Opera.
    May 22.

    Who's singing?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,066 ✭✭✭Sandwlch

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 143 ✭✭JonnyBlackrock

    I see Cara O'Sullivan is Lucia. She has a good voice but I'm not sure she has what it takes to be a convincing Lucia (who does??)

    I've only ever seen one of their productions. A few years ago they did Madame Butterfly. They brought a Korean singer for the lead, and she was amazing, but the orchestra were so bad as to be laughable.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 27,999 ✭✭✭✭looksee

    I have been to a number of the performances at Dungarvan cinema. Its a great opportunity to enjoy opera, ballet or theatre. I am not much of an opera buff, or indeed ballet or theatre, but I have been enjoying the performances they have shown so far. Last week we went to see a recording of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Shakespeare company at the Globe Theatre, it was wonderful, three hours with no break (!) but a most enjoyable performance.
    We also went to see Carmen - the apparently rather contovertial season opening version, which was rather odd in terms of production, but nonetheless a great opportunity to see the performance.