INO Announces First Five Operas of 2019

Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Fergus Sheil, artistic director of Irish National Opera, today announced details of the company's productions for the period from January to June 2019.

“Irish National Opera is not quite a year old,” he said, “and the company is still growing. In January 2018 we announced 38 performances and seven productions. We actually delivered 39 performances and eight productions. In the first six months of 2019 there will be 32 performances of five different works and the company will make its continental European debut in Amsterdam in March.”

Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, which created the initiative which led to the foundation of Irish National Opera in January 2018, said, “The 2018 INO programme has been a tremendous achievement for which all involved deserve great congratulations. The early 2019 programme shows a sustained commitment to strong artistic and public access values and to the imaginative vision which has made for such a great first year for INO. After some very difficult years for opera in Ireland, the great early success of INO is very gratifying, and I look forward to the company continuing to lead a renaissance of opera in Ireland in 2019 and in the years to come.”

Fergus Sheil also explained that “We are announcing just six months’ work now. Next year we will move to an annual season structure where we will announce a year at a time beginning mid-year. July 2019 to June 2020 will be announced in the first half of 2019.”

Director and choreographer Emma Martin's acclaimed production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, a sold-out highlight of last July's Galway International Arts Festival, will tour to 11 venues between Thursday 7 February and Saturday 2 March. With a total of 13 performances — in Tallaght, Drogheda, Bray, Waterford, Carlow, Celbridge, Cork, Ennis, Tralee, Dún Laoghaire and Wexford — this co-production with United Fall will be the most extensive tour the company has yet undertaken. INO Artistic Partner Sharon Carty is Orfeo, Sarah Power is Euridice and Emma Nash Amore.

INO's major new productions of 2019 are of works that are in the top ten of most frequently performed operas worldwide. Puccini's Madama Butterfly, at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Cork Opera House between Sunday 24 March and Friday 5 April, is directed by Ben Barnes, former artistic director of the Abbey Theatre. The production stars much-loved Irish soprano Celine Byrne, an Artistic Partner of INO. She makes her company debut in the title role, the vulnerable Cio-Cio San, whose nickname gives the opera its title. Her fatal love interest in this heart-wrenching work, the US Navy Lieutenant BF Pinkerton, is sung by Dublin-based English tenor Julian Hubbard. Timothy Redmond conducts the INO Chorus and RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Mozart's The Magic Flute is the composer's most popular opera, second in overall international popularity only to Verdi's La traviata. INO's cast in this enchanting work of magic and myth includes a roll-call of leading Irish talent. Sopranos Jennifer Davis, Anna Devin and Kim Sheehan, and baritone Gavan Ring (an INO Artistic Partner) all make company production debuts in major roles and they are joined by international colleagues, Grammy Award-Winning Audrey Luna, Nick Pritchard, Tyler Nelson, and Lukas Jakobski. Ten smaller roles are all taken by rising Irish singers. The director Caroline Staunton, who is on the staff of the Staatsoper Berlin, is returning to Dublin for more Mozart — she directed a one-off performance of Mozart's The Opera Director for INO last April. Award-winning Irish conductor Peter Whelan, an INO Artistic Partner, conducts INO Chorus and the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

INO's final new work in the first half of 2019 is This Hostel Life, an installation opera by composer Evangelia Rigaki (a member of INO Studio) and Irish-resident Nigerian writer Melatu Uche Okorie. The work, which will also involve singer members of INO Studio, is based on stories from the experiences of migrant women living in Ireland today. The two performances in the Crypt of Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral on Thursday 27 and Saturday 29 June will allow audiences a two-hour window in which they can come and go as they explore the work.

INO also makes its first foray into continental Europe for performances of a revival of Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh's The Second Violinist in Amsterdam on Thursday 7 and Saturday 9 March. This co-production with Landmark Productions won the coveted €150,000 FEDORA - Generali Prize for Opera. It is an immersive, multi-media experience that attracted huge acclaim when it was seen in Galway, Dublin and London. The performances in the Netherlands cement INO's position as the leader in taking cutting-edge Irish opera to major international performance centres. The performances at Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam's leading venue for contemporary music, are part of Dutch National Opera's 18- day Opera Forward Festival 2019 which is exploring the theme, Identity and Confrontation. The four-person cast — Aaron Monaghan, Daire Halpin, Sharon Carty and Benedict Nelson — is joined by the INO Chorus and Crash Ensemble under Ryan McAdams.

“The January–June 2019 programme,” said Fergus Sheil, “builds on the achievements of the last year, and continues to offer Irish opera lovers productions which bring together the best of Irish and international talent. Members of our upcoming casts and creative teams have worked in the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan and other leading houses on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.”

“It is part of our core policy,” he continued, “to showcase world-class Irish operatic talent at home and abroad. We are fortunate that Ireland has produced a highly-talented generation of singers and creative artists who are happy to prioritise performances at home. Their contribution is the bedrock on which our success continues to be built. Fully 80 per cent of our casts in the next six months will be Irish.”

INO's executive director, Diego Fasciati, described 2018 as “an extraordinary year”. “We set ourselves ambitious goals in our inaugural year and we are on course to meet all of our financial targets. Our voluntary board appointed three new directors this year, former Second Secretary General of the Department of Finance Ann Nolan, brand and marketing expert Gary Joyce, and mezzo soprano Tara Erraught. And we now have an executive team of nine people to take the company into its second year of operation. We look forward to growing the company and its operatic output in 2019 and beyond.”

You can find full details of our new operas in the What's On section of our website.