• June 2022
  • Full Dates To Be Announced

Horse Ape Bird

A one-act youth opera (in three parts)

Can a horse do maths?

Can an ape learn sign language?

Can a parrot have a concept of the colour blue?

David Coonan and Dylan Coburn Gray’s new youth opera, with its chorus of teenagers, asks the question: Are animals animals because they lack something we possess, or vice versa? Ambitious, playful, thoughtful, weird, Horse Ape Bird is for anyone who has ever wondered if their dog loves them back.

Teenagers living in Kildare and Meath who would like to take part in this youth opera should contact INO Studio & Outreach Producer James Bingham at info@irishnationalopera.ie



“demented fairytale like music” - The Arts Review on David Coonan
“a heady, word-drunk piece of writing … there’s a beautiful musicality to it, a sense of ebb and flow” - The Stage on Dylan Coburn Gray




Cast & Creative Team


Music Generation Kildare & Music Generation Meath Youth Chorus
Soloists TBA

Creative Team

Conductor Elaine Kelly
Composer David Coonan
Writer Dylan Coburn Gray
Director TBA
Designer TBA
Music Generation Kildare & Music Generation Meath Instrumental Ensemble
Irish National Opera Orchestra

Take Part

We are recruiting for our new youth opera, Horse Ape Bird, a specially commissioned work, written to be performed by young people. The opera tells three true stories about scientists adopting animals, treating them like humans , and then abandoning them when they fail to learn to act like humans.

We’re looking for young people aged between 13-18, living in Kildare or Meath, with a passion for singing, acting or performing. If you've ever dreamed of taking part in a live opera performance or been curious about what it’s like to be on stage, this is the perfect opportunity for you. You don’t need to have any stage experience, formal music training or know anything about opera to take part.

How do I take part?

We’ll be holding audition workshops in Kildare and Meath. Audition workshops aren’t like ‘X Factor’ style auditions. Instead, we’ll spend half a day with everyone taking part, giving you the chance to sing and perform small parts of the opera as a group. It’s an opportunity for you to see if you would like to take part in the opera and will help us select the final ensemble for the piece. You don’t need to prepare anything in advance.

The audition workshops will take place on the below dates.

21 November | 2-5pm | Solstice Arts Centre, Meath

28 November | 2-5pm | Maynooth University, Kildare

What happens I’m successful in the audition?

You’ll have a lot of fun and learn a lot too! Successful applicants will get to sing in the ensemble for Horse Ape Bird alongside professional opera singers and a professional chamber orchestra. Over the course of a few months, starting in January 2022, you'll work with a director, conductor and many other artists to prepare this brand new work for public performances in both Kildare and Meath next June. This opportunity will suit post-primary school students that are not in an exam year.

You’ll need to make sure you’re available for all the rehearsal and performance dates outlined below. A detailed schedule is available on request.

For young people living in Kildare, you’ll need to be available for rehearsals on the following dates:

  • Saturdays 29 January, 27 February, 26 March, 16 April, 14 May
  • Sunday 15 May
  • 6-23 June (exc Sundays)

For young people living in Meath, you’ll need to be available for rehearsals on the following dates:

  • Saturdays 22 January, 19 February, 19 March, 16 April, 14 May
  • Sunday 15 May
  • 6-23 June (exc Sundays)

Performance dates are 24 and 26 June

How much does it cost to take part?

If you’re successful in gaining a place in the chorus, you will need to make a contribution of €100 toward the cost of the tuition. If you’d like to pay this in instalments or you’re concerned that you might struggle to pay the fee at all, then we’re happy to chat with you to make an appropriate arrangement.

How do I sign up?

It’s easy. Simply fill in this registration form to apply.

I have a few more questions! Is there someone I can speak to?

Of course! You can send us an email at info@irishnationalopera.ie if you’ve any other questions.