The Operas That Drive Us
Working in opera can be a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience and ultimately it’s our passion for the art form that drives us. With a little more time on our hands for self-reflection than usual, we thought we’d share some of the operas that inspire us to do the work we do.
Muireann Ní Dhubhghaill – Artistic Administrator
I was in my 20s before I experienced live opera. My mother and I went to see Wide Open Opera’s Tristan und Isolde in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (I know, what an opera for a first-timer!). I was overawed by the sheer scale of the production, I’d never seen or heard anything like it. Miriam Murphy was extraordinary as Isolde. The orchestra was incredible. Beforehand, I had no idea the story was about an Irish princess, and that Miriam was the first Irish soprano to perform the role! A few years later I was living in Chapelizod, a place said to be named after the princess, and I would be reminded of the opera every time I passed the Tristan & Isolde House just off the main street. Wagner isn’t often involved in someone’s introduction to opera, particularly this five-hour long epic, but if you ever get the chance to see this opera, don’t miss it!
Fergus Sheil – Artistic Director
I don’t have one favourite opera – I love so many that it’s impossible to pick just one. In my job, many of the operas that I love, I can programme, so I‘d like to share one that is among my very many favourites, but which is not planned by INO in the foreseeable future. Hopefully some day!
Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades as a really haunting opera. Herman is a low-ranking army officer in love with the aristocratic Liza. She is out of his league. He thinks money will solve everything and thinks that winning a fortune at gambling is his only hope. She initially has no interest, but because of Herman’s determination she eventually falls for him. But he has become obsessed with gambling, forgetting the reason why. Their destiny could have been for each other, but they miss. The score is full of searching passion, determination, obsession, tragedy. Tchaikovsky draws every ounce of emotion from every bar.
Claire Lowney – Marketing and Development Assistant
One of my favourite operas is Mark Anthony Turnage’s Greek. Scottish Opera staged a production of it in 2017 & 2018, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, whilst I was working in the marketing department there. Big, bold and raucous – it was unlike any other opera I had seen to that point and a very blunt and anarchic re-telling of the classic Oedipus myth. The minimalist staging, stark visuals, revolving set, biting satire, riot shield toting orchestra (!) and exceptional performances from the cast of four combined to create a remarkably visceral and unforgettable production.
Sarah Halpin – Digital Communications Manager
Picking a favourite opera? Where would I even start? Decisiveness has never been my strong point, which is maybe one of the reasons I love opera so much. With opera, you don’t have to choose. Feeling romantic and in need of a cry? Have a listen to La bohème from Puccini, Colline’s song to his coat (Vecchia zimarra), sung in the last act, as he leaves to pawn his coat in a vain effort to do something help Mimì, is high up there on my favourite moments on stage ever - gets me every time.
Looking for something lighter? Then any one of Rossini’s comic operas, will bring a smile to even the most cynical of faces. Here’s a version of his famous Barber of Seville beautifully reimagined in stop motion. I challenge you not to smile.
With so many options, I can indulge my indecisiveness and change favourites every day.
James Bingham – Studio and Outreach Producer
I love opera because of how universal it can be. When opera is at its best, we’re able to empathise with even the most unrelatable of scenarios. That’s one of the many reasons why The Cunning Little Vixen by Leoš Janáček is one of my favourite operas. The score is packed with colour and intrigue that shape the various characters that the vixen encounters in a way that turns wild animals into complex creatures with emotions we can understand. I always get a bit teary at the end too.