New Artistic Director at Northern Ireland Opera

Walter Sutcliffe

New Artistic Director at Northern Ireland Opera

Rosemary Collier leaves Opera Theatre Company; Arts Council announces 2017 Opera Production Awards.

Following a call for applications in October, NI Opera in Belfast has appointed opera and theatre director Walter Sutcliffe as its new Artistic Director. He will take up the position with the company in February 2017. 

A graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, London, and former Staff Director at Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, Sutcliffe has extensive opera and theatre experience, and has directed acclaimed productions which have been seen in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, France and Estonia.

As stage director, Sutcliffe has been a regular guest at the Oper Frankfurt, and has directed productions for Teatro Regio di Torino, Semperoper Dresden, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Theater Magdeburg, Theater Chemnitz, Di Capo Opera, New York (where he directed the American stage premiere of Leoš Janáček’s first opera, Sarka), Klangbogen Festival, Vienna (where he directed the Austrian premiere of Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden), and the Royal Academy of Music, London, amongst many others. Debuts at Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires are also planned.

Roy Bailie, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Opera Board, said:

We are delighted to appoint Walter Sutcliffe as Northern Ireland Opera’s new Artistic Director – in Walter we have an outstanding candidate who brings both a wealth of international directing experience, as well as a keen insight into what it takes to lead a successful opera company. We believe he is the perfect person to lead Northern Ireland Opera on the next stage of its journey, continuing the wonderful work that the company has achieved so far under Oliver Mears and his team.

Current Artistic Director Oliver Mears will oversee his final production, the Irish premiere of Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face at the Lyric Theatre in January in a co-production with Opera Theatre Company, prior to his departure to the post of Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.


Executive Director Rosemary Collier has left Opera Theatre Company to take up a position with the Office of Public Works with responsibility for National Historic Properties.

Appointed in 2013, under Collier OTC has presented a range of productions, including The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (supported by a Sky Arts Ignition award), The Elixir of Love, Ariodante, The Human Voice and Susanna’s Secret, Don Giovanni and more. OTC has just received a 13% increase in funding from the Arts Council.

Gaby Smyth, chair of OTC, commented:

Opera Theatre Company is hugely indebted to Rosemary Collier for her skilful management of the company since 2013, for her energy and commitment, and for her vision for the opera sector. She has helped secure the company’s position at the forefront of the Irish arts sector.


The Arts Council has recently announced its Opera Production awards for 2017. The Council received a total of seven applications and has offered three awards, totalling €944,742.

Irish Youth Opera received €218,927 for a collaboration with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Paris Opéra to present the first Irish performances of Britten’s Owen Wingrave

NI Opera received €225,815 to present, with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Irish premiere of Handel’s Radamisto with performances in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Limerick in May 2017. The production will feature an Irish ensemble, cast and artistic team including Dorren Curran, Aoife Miskelly, Sinead Campbell-Wallace and Kate Allendirector Wayne Jordan, designer Annemarie Woods and conductor David Brophy.

Landmark Productions received €500,000 to produce the world première in July 2017 of The Second Violinist, a new opera by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh.

Published on 4 January 2017

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