Tuesday, 24 September, 2019
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By Shauna Caffrey

We caught up with composer Evangelia Rigaki in the run up to the opening of her latest work, installation opera This Hostel Life, produced by Irish National Opera.

Evangelia’s compositional portfolio is diverse, including musical installations such as The Pregnant Box (2013), the opera AntiMidas, or, Bankers in Hades (2014), and most recently her percussion work While The World Misbehaves, the Baby Must Hide in the Beehive (2018).

Based on the book of the same name by Melatu Uche Okorie, This Hostel Life invites listeners into a hidden world as they descend into the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral, and become immersed in the stories of life in direct provision and racism in Ireland.


Evangelia Rigaki and Melatu Uche Okorie

With less than a week to go, this must be a very charged time! Are you excited about the work’s debut?

Yes, it has been one of the most exciting collaborations I’ve had! It’s a dream-team, to work with the Irish National Opera!

As you’ve said, this collaboration looks at a very pertinent work, This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie. Can you tell me about how you came across this work, and what inspired you to create a musical piece?

We had been searching for a work - we had the idea of creating an installation opera, and we were looking for a text that would deal with issues that resonate today, and that would say something about life in Ireland today. This book was recommended to me by Fergus Shiel, the director of Irish National Opera. I read it, and was very moved by it, it’s a very powerful book.

Okorie’s work is very emotional and thought-provoking piece, is this something that you hope will be channelled into your work?

I hope that I’ve not sentimentalised the words, but that I’ve given another layer that adds emotional depth; that I gave a voice to these words that could be heard. I hope that I’ve added another layer to this book.

Speaking of other layers, the location for the performances is a very interesting choice: the crypt of Christ Church. Was there a reason for this?

Yes, we wanted something that would be outside of the opera stage, something that would allow the audience to be close together, to walk, and to have a different experience than they could have in an opera house. So we were keen to locate this not in an opera house, not in a theatre, but in a different venue. So the Christ Church Crypt was the ideal venue for this kind of setting.

...Read the full interview at GoldenPlec here