The Arts Review: Irish National Opera’s Programme: January to June 2019

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018
Orfeo News Home Page

Christmas comes early for opera fans this year.

Featuring 32 performances of 5 operas across 17 venues, with productions in Amsterdam as well as throughout the length and breadth of Ireland, Irish National Opera’s programme from January to June 2019, announced today, is nothing if not ambitious. Artistic director of Irish National Opera, Fergus Sheil, put that ambition into perspective;

“Irish National Opera is not quite a year old 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. 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.”

Featuring works by Gluck, Puccini, and Mozart, alongside composers Donnacha Dennehy, as well as composer Evangelia Rigaki (a member of INO Studio) working with Irish-resident Nigerian writer Melatu Uche Okorie, INO's half year programme delivers a strong blend of both classic and contemporary works.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 March 7th and Saturday March 9th. 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 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 of 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.

With Christmas approaching, tickets for Irish National Opera's January-June 2019 Programme make for a perfect gift, with prices starting at €15. So treat your loved ones, or yourself. Tickets are now on sale.

Written by Chris O'Rourke, The Arts Review, https://www.theartsreview.com/...