The Baroque and the Banished: DIT and RIAM Operas This Week

Jade Phoenix in a scene from Stephen McNeff’s ‘Banished’. (Image: Colm Hogan)

The Baroque and the Banished: DIT and RIAM Operas This Week

A Baroque opera double bill from DIT Conservatory and an Irish premiere from RIAM will be performed by students of the colleges.

Both DIT Conservatory of Music and the Royal Irish Academy of Music are presenting opera productions this week.

DIT Conservatory is presenting a Baroque Opera Double Bill including Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, while RIAM is presenting the Irish premiere of Stephen McNeff’s Banished.

Crusade romance
Monteverdi’s rarely performed ‘Combat between Tancredi and Clorinda’ is a romance set against the backdrop of the First Crusade, first performed in 1624.  The Purcell work, featuring the famous ‘Dido’s Lament’, recounts the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when he abandons her.

The cast for both operas is drawn from the Department of Vocal, Opera and Drama Studies at DIT and features Susie Gibbons as Dido, Connor Campbell as Aeneas, and, in the Monteverdi, Oisín Ó Dálaigh, Sarah Kilcoyne, Rheanne Breen and more.

Both operas are by produced Una Hunt with Music Director Steve Wallace and Stage Director Peter McDermott.  Performances take place at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 January at 7.30pm.

Challenging parts for young women
British composer Stephen McNeff’s Banished was premiered in the UK by Trinity Laban College in 2016. It is an adaptation of Steve Gooch’s play Female Transport and tells the story of women who were transported to Australia in the last years of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Commenting on the opera, McNeff said:

I have been involved in opera for a long time and it has always been a frustration that while there is an abundance of female talent (particularly so in conservatories and colleges) there is a noticeable lack of challenging parts available for young women. … Redressing this balance and taking advantage of the richness in vocal talent is only one reason to write an opera reflecting the reality of a group of strong women who work things out for themselves. 

Banished will feature Leah Redmond, Ana-Maria Acunune, Katie O’Donohue, Hannah O’Brien, Jade Phoenix and Katie Richardson-McCrea from the RIAMThe opera is produced by Kathleen Tynan, directed by Caitriona McLaughlin and the conductor is Andrew Synnott. The performances take place at Kilmainham Gaol and there are tickets remaining for Wednesday night only, 16 January. 

Tickets for DIT’s Baroque Opera Double Bill are available from Smock Alley and tickets for RIAM’s Banished  are available here.

Published on 14 January 2019

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