The Times - "Big plans for opera to return with a bang after interval of eight years"

Thursday, 14 December, 2017
The Times Article 14 Dec 2017

Big plans for opera to return with a bang after interval of eight years

By Jennifer O'Brien

Opera in Ireland is set to be thrust back into the limelight with the establishment of the Irish National Opera, which has just announced its key appointments to its core executive team.

Fergus Sheil, the new artistic director of the Irish National Opera, said that a number of forthcoming productions were set to satisfy the thirst of Irish operagoers who had gone eight years without a national organisation staging large-scale shows.

"The core aim of the Irish National Opera is to get large and small-scale opera back to stages in Dublin and throughout the country," Mr Sheil told The Times.  "There is nothing quite like seeing the opera live with the full orchestra and chorus.  Regularity is key and opera fans in Ireland have had sporadic performances here and there for a number of years now.  We want to satisfy the demand and make performances more regular throughout the country."

The Irish National Opera was founded this year when the Wide Open Opera and Opera Theatre Company merged. The Arts Council of Ireland said in July that the INO was to become its "preferred provider of main-scale opera in Dublin" from 2018.

The Arts Council hailed the merger as something that would boost opera in Ireland and "result in the return to the Dublin stage of regular Irish productions of the great operatic repertoire".  The INO will have Arts Council support in excess of €2.5 million.

Opera Ireland, the previous provider of large-scale opera productions in Ireland, ceased operating in 2010.  Martin Cullen, who was then arts minister, set about establishing an Irish National Opera company in March 2010, but the project ground to a halt under Jimmy Deenihan when he was appointed minister for arts.

"INO's plans include full-scale productions that will be seen in Dublin and other cities and smaller-scale shows that will tour throughout Ireland," an INO spokesman said.

"Places the company will visit include Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Letterkenny, Limerick, Navan, Sligo, Tralee and Wexford.  The company's work will have a particular focus on employing the best of Irish singers and creative teams and will invest in the future by nurturing emerging talent."

The Irish National Opera's first production will be Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Patrick Mason, which will be staged at the National Opera House, Wexford on April 13.

The INO's full 2018 programme will be unveiled at The Big Bang! -- a concert in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on Tuesday January 9.  The concert will feature singers including Orla Boylan, Claudia Boyle, Sharon Carty, Jennifer Davis and Anna Devin in a selection of arias and ensembles with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.  Conducted by Fergus Sheil, it will feature music from operas including LohingrinLa WallySamson et DalilaAida and Roméo et Juliette.