Opera Now - "Ireland Launches New Opera Company"

Thursday, 1 February, 2018
Prodn Sharon Big Bang

Ireland Launches New Opera Company

A new national opera has been launched in Ireland, with the aim of showcasing Irish talent and creating new productions to tour nationally and abroad.

Irish National Opera (INO) was launched in January by merging the Wide Open Opera and Opera Theatre Company.  Under its first artistic director, Fergus Sheila, it will open its inaugural season next month with a touring production of Thomas Adès's Powder Her Face, presented in collaboration with Northern Ireland Opera.

Setting out the rationale for creating the new company, Sheila said, 'This is a remarkable time for Irish singers, with so many exceptional artists on the international scene.  We have the chance to make a bold statement to the public in Ireland about our world-class artists and bring as many of them as possible to the broadest of audiences.'

INO's inaugural season will continue in April with Patrick Mason's new staging of The Marriage of Figaro, with Tara Erraught, Jonathan Lemalu, Máire Flavin and Suzanne Murphy among its cast.  This will be the company's first full new production, opening at Wexford's National Opera House before transferring to Dublin's Gaiety Theatre for four performances.

In the summer, the company will present Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice in association with Galway International Arts Festival.  Directed by Emma Martin, the production will feature mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty.

Autumn will see INO present a revival of Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh's The Second Violinist (a co-production with Landmark Productions) at the Barbican Centre in London.  The season continues with a 10-venue tour of Tom Creed's new production of The Tales of Hoffman before returning to the Gaiety Theatre for Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle.   

Fergus Sheil will conclude 2018 by conducting the company's fifth new production, Aida, at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, joined by Orla Boylan in the title role and Gwyn Hughes Jones as Radames.

The company also announced plans to collaborate with a number of different orchestras and ensembles for specific projects, including the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Crash Ensemble, and hopes to create its own orchestra for some productions.

Key aspects of INO's work will be projects designed to attract newcomers to opera and encourage emerging opera professionals.  Addressing communities formerly untouched by opera and raising awareness of exceptional Irish talent are also central to the company's vision.

Looking further ahead, the company plans to produce Wagner's Ring cycle in Dublin, where it was last staged in 1913.  It is already working to take the best of its productions to New York and Amsterdam, and extend its national touring circuit to reach 26 venues by 2019.

INO artistic director Fergus Sheila described the season as 'a fantastic opportunity for us to create something new,' adding: 'It is also about defining fresh parameters for what opera could and should be.

'We want to build our home audience and lead them to the delights of Strauss, Janáček and others as we develop.  The ambition is to broaden the repertoire and take on the big works, to increase the number of productions, and to bring opera of the highest quality to audiences throughout Ireland and overseas.'