• December 2020
  • Online

20 Shots of Opera

20 composers. 20 short operas. All composed and performed under the shadow of Covid-19.

The subjects range from Beethoven’s letters about his laundry, food and servant problems to a marine biologist meditating “on the enigmatic figure of Libris Solar, an alchemical blend of human, non-human and neoprene”.

The biggest single-event commissioning project in Irish musical history features works by Gerald Barry, Éna Brennan, Irene Buckley, Linda Buckley, Robert Coleman, David Coonan, Alex Dowling, Peter Fahey, Michael Gallen, Andrew Hamilton, Jenn Kirby, Conor Linehan, Conor Mitchell, Gráinne Mulvey, Emma O’Halloran, Hannah Peel, Karen Power, Evangelia Rigaki, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and Jennifer Walshe. All shot in Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra under conductors Elaine Kelly and Fergus Sheil with a team of directors and designers under series director Hugh O’Conor.

And all streamed to the world for free from Thursday 17 December.



20 Operas

Irish National Opera exists to transform opera in Ireland and is making 2020 a year to remember for positive reasons, placing opera at the heart of Irish creative life.

As a creative response to the challenges of the global pandemic, INO are turning the spotlight onto the breadth and depth of Irish operatic talent.

20 Shots of Opera will energise Ireland’s opera community by creating significant employment for composers, singers, musicians, directors, designers and technical personnel at this most difficult time.

You can support this momentous project by commissioning one the operas below – for more information please contact Diego Fasciati, Executive Director diego@irishnationalopera.ie

GERALD BARRY (born 1952)


Mrs Streicher

A setting of letters Beethoven wrote to Nannette Streicher about his laundry/food/servant problems. He whips himself into a frenzy of paranoia and is even able to make unfavourable comparisons between his maid’s poor behaviour and Christ’s suffering on Golgotha.

words Ludwig van Beethoven

performers Gavan Ring (tenor), Stephen Irvine (tuba)

director Gerald Barry

Commissioned by Timothy King & Mary Canning

ÉNA BRENNAN (born 1990)



Sometimes we are our own worst enemy . . . We fall victim to a conscience poisoned by society's repressing landscape. A rupture occurs within ourselves – the timeless fight between good and evil.

words Éna Brennan

performers Rachel Goode (soprano), Sarah Richmond (mezzo-soprano)

director Jo Mangan

conductor Elaine Kelly

IRENE BUCKLEY (born 1978)


Ghost Apples

A scientist studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 1.26 million square kilometre floating mass of discarded plastic, has an apocalyptic vision of the future.

words Jessica Traynor

performer Kelli-Ann Masterson (soprano)

director Conor Hanratty

conductor Elaine Kelly

LINDA BUCKLEY (born 1979)



When conversations occur through screens, our eyes can't meet. Our connection falters, then breaks. In these times of rift and rupture, who haunts the glitch?

words Doireann Ní Ghríofa

performers Sarah Shine (soprano), Gemma Ní Bhriain (mezzo-soprano)

director Hugh O’Conor

conductor Elaine Kelly

ROBERT COLEMAN (born 1989)


The Colour Green

Mark Boyle, having given up technology for a life in rural Galway, meditates upon his daily rituals; of writing by hand and the ease to which sleep finds him.

words by Mark Boyle

performer David Howes (bass-baritone)

director Hugh O’Conor

animator Holly Keating

conductor Fergus Sheil

DAVID COONAN (born 1987)



A Garda is coached on how to answer awkward questions. It's awkward. Awkward question for you: what's the difference between answering truthfully and telling the truth?

words Dylan Coburn Gray

performer Amy Ní Fhearraigh (soprano)

director Caitriona McLaughlin

conductor Fergus Sheil

ALEX DOWLING (born 1987)


Her Name

At a boarding school in Dublin City, a young boy secretly mourns the loss of his mother.

words Mark O’Halloran

performer Sean Hayden (boy soprano)

director Hugh O’Conor

conductor Elaine Kelly

PETER FAHEY (born 1982)


Through and Through

A traditional ballad reimagined it as a kind of fairytale in which a noblewoman murders her lover, is taunted by a magical talking bird (who has witnessed the crime) and, ultimately, is accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.

words Trad, adapted Peter Fahey

performer Daire Halpin (soprano)

director Anabelle Comyn

conductor Fergus Sheil

MICHAEL GALLEN (born 1986)


At a Loss

A woman sits awake in a screen-lit room, awaiting news about her mother’s imminent passing. Tuning into the tides of electrical hum around her, she wonders about the parallels between this power and the force that gives life to the body.

words Michael Gallen

performer Orla Boylan (soprano)

director Michael Gallen

conductor Fergus Sheil



Erthe Upon Erthe

A response to a terrifying walk through a Covid Hot Zone in a Birmingham hospital in April as seen through the lens of a Medieval English poem.

words Anon (medieval English)

performer Sinéad Campbell Wallace (soprano)

director Jo Mangan

conductor Fergus Sheil

JENN KIRBY (born 1987)


Dichotomies of Lockdown

Two people navigate the various dichotomous stages of lockdown, finding beauty in the mundane, love for and fear of humanity. Separated and together.

words Jenn Kirby

performers Aebh Kelly (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Gavin (tenor)

director Aoife Spillane-Hinks

conductor Elaine Kelly

CONOR LINEHAN (born 1971)


The Patient Woman

Fail me not, Doc. You’re all I’ve got, Doc. Join the dots, Doc. A three act tragicomedy where a woman finds the strength to embrace her doctor’s failure.

words Muireann Ahern and Louis Lovett

performers Imelda Drumm (mezzo-soprano), Brenton Ryan (tenor)

directors Muireann Ahern and Louis Lovett

conductor Fergus Sheil

Commissioned by Gaby Smyth

CONOR MITCHELL (born 1977)


A message for Marty (or ‘The Ring’)

When Marty breaks her Jackie's heart, her sister takes to Facebook video. A comic short which shows what happens when Belfast girls lose their temper in a very, very public way!

performers Emma Nash (soprano), Carolyn Dobbin (mezzo-soprano)

director Davey Kelleher

conductor Fergus Sheil

GRÁINNE MULVEY (born 1966)


La Corbière

The tragic, true story of a wartime shipwreck shows the dehumanising power of fear and the consequent objectification and brutalisation of a group of women.

words Anne Le Marquand Hartigan

performers Mairéad Buicke (soprano), Anne Marie Gibbons (mezzo-soprano)

director Jo Mangan

conductor Fergus Sheil

EMMA O’HALLORAN (born 1985)


The Wait

While the waters rise outside, a woman sits upstairs in her house, waiting.

words Mark O’Halloran

performer Naomi Louisa O’Connell (mezzo-soprano)

director Michael Barker-Caven

conductor Elaine Kelly

Commissioned by Genesis

HANNAH PEEL (born 1985)



Sam and Andi have been Zoom dating during lockdown but today they are meeting for the first time. Is it okay to get close?

words Stella Feehily

performers Rachel Croash (soprano), Raphaela Mangan (mezzo-soprano)

director Sarah Baxter

conductor Elaine Kelly

KAREN POWER (born 1977)



A solitary man and woman become aware that their separate worlds consist of uniquely enclosed environments, in which the sounds of five words are their only means of communication and perhaps their only means of escape.

words IONE

performers Naomi Louisa O’Connell (mezzo-soprano), Gyula Nagy (baritone)

director Jo Mangan

conductor Fergus Sheil



The Gift

A meditation on the love of a father for his estranged daughter. A last meeting, a reparation, a benign waiting to tell her Goodbye.

words Marina Carr

performers Doreen Curran (mezzo-soprano), Sean McGinley (actor)

director Jo Mangan

conductor Fergus Sheil




A ballad of extinction, biodiversity loss and ecological collapse, Dust is a quiet lament from a near future.

words Benedict Schlepper-Connolly

performer Michelle O’Rourke (mezzo-soprano)

director Stephanie Dufresne

conductor Elaine Kelly



Libris Solar

A marine biologist meditates on the enigmatic figure of Libris Solar, an alchemical blend of human, non-human and neoprene.

words Jennifer Walshe

performer Claudia Boyle (soprano)

director Tom Creed

conductor Elaine Kelly

Commissioned by John Caldwell

Cast & Creative Team

Conductors Fergus Sheil & Elaine Kelly
Series Director Hugh O'Connor
Directors Muireann Ahern, Michael Barker-Caven, Gerald Barry, Sarah Baxter, Annabelle Comyn, Tom Creed, Stephanie Dufresne, Michael Gallen, Conor Hanratty, Davey Kelleher, Louis Lovett, Jo Mangan, Caitriona McLaughlin, Aoife Spillane-Hinks
Production Design Sarah Bacon
Costume Design Katie Davenport
Lighting Design Paul Keogan
Video Design Luca Truffarelli
Animator Holly Keating
Editor & Camera Hugh Chaloner
Audio Producer Benedict Schlepper Connolly
Soprano Orla Boylan, Claudia Boyle, Mairéad Buicke, Sinéad Campbell Wallace, Rachel Croash, Rachel Goode, Daire Halpin, Kelli-Ann Masterson, Emma Nash, Amy Ní Fhearraigh, Sarah Shine
Boy soprano Sean Hayden
Mezzo-soprano Doreen Curran, Carolyn DobbinSinéad Campbell Wallace, Rachel Croash, Rachel Goode, Daire Halpin, Kelli-Ann Masterson, Emma Nash, Amy Ní Fhearraigh, Sarah Shine, Imelda Drumm, Anne Marie Gibbons, Aebh Kelly, Raphaela Mangan, Gemma Ní Bhriain, Naomi Louisa O’Connell, Michelle O’Rourke, Sarah Richmond
Tenor Andrew Gavin, Gavan Ring, Brenton Ryan
Baritone Gyula Nagy
Bass-baritone David Howes
Actor Sean McGinley, Amelie Metcalfe