Wednesday, 13 September 2017, 8.00pm

Opera Collective Ireland presents the Irish premiere of


an opera by Benjamin Britten

Libretto by Myfanwy Piper based on a short story by Henry James

A co-production with the Académie de l’Opéra national de Paris / Supported by RTÉ Lyric FM
& the French Embassy in Ireland


CONDUCTED by Stephen Barlow

DIRECTED by Tom Creed

SET & LIGHTING DESIGN by Aedin Cosgrove

COSTUME DESIGN by Catherine Fay

CAST: Andrew Boushell, Rachel Croash, Christopher Cull, Amy Ní Fhearraigh, Peter O’Reilly, Sarah Richmond, Benjamin Russell & Roisín Walsh

TOURSLime Tree Theatre, Limerick – 9 September 2017 / Everyman Theatre, Cork – 13 September, 2017 / O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin (at Dublin Fringe Festival) - 15 & 16 September, 2017

FULL TOUR INFORMATION :: operacollectiveireland.com

A gripping tale of family conflict with devastating consequences:

2017 sees Opera Collective Ireland expand its horizons to join forces with the internationally renowned Paris Opera to present the Irish premiere of Britten’s compelling opera OWEN WINGRAVE. A co-production with the Académie de l’Opéra national de Paris and directed by the award-winning Irish director from Cork, Tom Creed, the performances will be conducted by Stephen Barlow who returns to the company following the much praised performances of Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA in 2014. Performed by some of Ireland’s finest young singers, this superb piece of operatic theatre is as pertinent now as it was when first premiered forty-six years ago. The production opens at the Lime Tree, Limerick and tours to the Everyman, Cork while taking to the Dublin Fringe Festival and O’Reilly Theatre for two performances this September.


Founded in 2012 as Irish Youth Opera (IYO), the newly re-named Opera Collective Ireland has ushered in a new era for opera production in Ireland. Putting Irish artists centre stage, the company’s critically acclaimed stagings have showcased young Irish singers who have subsequently gone on to perform on some of the most prominent opera stages of the world including the Royal Opera Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Maggio Musicale Florence, Opera North, Scottish Opera and the Oper Frankfurt.


As the only Irish opera company dedicated solely to providing a dedicated professional platform for younger Irish singers and opera practitioners, Opera Collective Ireland creates valuable employment opportunities for indigenous artists, making a vital contribution to both their personal and professional development.

To date the pioneering company has led the way with a series of innovative partnerships both at home and abroad working with, amongst others, Wexford Festival Opera, Northern Ireland Opera and the Irish Chamber Orchestra.

Founded by mezzo-soprano Colette McGahon (OCI Artistic Director) and her colleagues Suzanne Murphy (soprano) & Paul McNamara (tenor), Opera Collective Ireland is committed to the needs of young Irish artists and Irish audiences alike. 

“Impressive standards were promised and delivered, and that augurs well for the future” The Sunday Business Post reviewing Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA - 2014 

“…a superb, modern presentation… subtle and imaginative… Britten’s opera came across with a powerful impact and commendable musicality. IYO looks like becoming an important force in the development of music drama in Ireland in the years ahead.” Opera Magazine reviewing Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA - 2014 

“…an evening to remember.” The Irish Times***** reviewing Handel’s AGRIPPINA - 2015 


Commissioned by The Royal Opera House, OWEN WINGRAVE was specifically conceived and composed as an opera for television. Although Britten had expressed reservations about the viability of opera on the small screen, it was the highly successful filming of Peter Grimes for BBC TV in 1969 that convinced him of its possibilities and he subsequently took up the challenge. First broadcast in May 1971, the work makes use of several televisual techniques such as cross-cutting, montage and flashback. Subsequent stage productions have, however, proved the work to be no less viable in live performance than any other of Britten’s operas. Like THE TURN OF THE SCREW, this opera also composed by Britten, is based on a story by Henry James. It tells the story of a young man who, groomed for military career, rebels against his family for whom soldiering is a way of life. This provided Britten with an ideal opportunity to make a public statement of his deeply held pacifist beliefs. Far from being mere propaganda, OWEN WINGRAVE is a characteristically rich and multi-layered work. Ironically Owen proves himself to be as much of a fighter when he struggles with his family as his warmongering ancestors. 


At Coyle’s cramming establishment in London, Owen and his friend Lechmere are learning the strategy of battle. At the end of the lesson Owen declares that he cannot go through with a military career. Coyle is angry but agrees to break the news to the Wingrave family for whom soldiering has been a way of life for decades. At their haunted country house, Paramore, Owen is rounded on by his aunt Miss Wingrave, his fiancée Kate Julian and her mother. The elderly head of the family, Sir Philip Wingrave, who fought at Bhurtpore, is similarly outraged. In the Prologue to Act Two, a ballad singer narrates the tale of the young Wingrave boy killed by his brutal father for refusing to fight over an argument with a friend. Sir Philip disowns Owen, depriving him of his inheritance. Kate humiliates Owen by flirting with Lechmere. After everyone has gone to bed, Owen, left alone, reflects on his predicament and reaffirms his passionate belief in peace. Kate comes looking for him. She taunts him with cowardice and dares him to sleep in the haunted room…


On August 11th some of Ireland’s finest young singers will meet in Dublin for an intensive and exciting rehearsal process for OWEN WINGRAVE.

The title role will be taken by the baritone Benjamin Russell. He is currently based in Germany where he is a valued member of the ensemble of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden. His repertoire there includes roles by Mozart (Figaro, Papageno) Donizetti (Malatesta), Wagner (Donner, Wolfram) & Puccini (Schaunard). Miss Wingrave, his formidable aunt, will be performed by the wonderful Limerick soprano Roisín Walsh who is currently based in London. The Northern Irish baritone Christopher Cull (Collatinus – THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA) will return to OCI as Owen’s tutor Spencer Coyle while the young Irish tenor. Peter O’Reilly will be making his professional operatic debut as Owen’s friend Lechmere. The Carrickfergus mezzo-soprano Sarah Richmond who has already made her mark on the international concert platform appears as Owen’s fiancée, Kate, with Amy Ní Fhearraigh as her mother, Mrs Julian. The accomplished soprano Rachel Croash joins the company as Mrs. Coyle and another tenor Andrew Boushell will feature as the patriarch Sir Philip Wingrave. 

**Running time approx. 120 mins (incl. interval)

FULL TOUR DETAILS & FURTHER INFORMATION at operacollectiveireland.com


Published on 19 July 2017

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