'We plan to work ceaselessly to attract new audiences to opera'

Fergus Sheil, Artistic Director of Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera 

'We plan to work ceaselessly to attract new audiences to opera'

Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera to create new company in Arts Council initiative.

Following a call for proposals by the Arts Council in February, it has been announced that Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera will merge to create a new opera company that will provide regular main-scale opera in Ireland.

‘This decision is a key element of the Arts Council’s new opera policy and strategy,’ said Arts Council Chair Sheila Pratschke. ‘Along with the growth of smaller-scale touring opera and our ongoing support of independent and emerging opera artists and producers, it will improve significantly the opera offering for audiences, and open up greater opportunity for artists.’

Core repertoire
Beginning next year, the new company will present 3–4 main-scale productions (core repertoire that involves an orchestra) as well as smaller Baroque and contemporary chamber works. The new company will primarily present their productions in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, and will occasionally tour to venues such as the National Opera House in Wexford or the Cork Opera House. The company’s programme will be announced in the autumn. 

Fergus Sheil, Artistic Director of Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera, said:

We plan to work ceaselessly to attract new audiences to opera, to provide unparalleled experiences for opera lovers and to champion the incredible roster of world-class opera artists that Ireland has produced, many of whom have not previously had a regular platform to perform for audiences at home.

New work
Sheil also emphasised that artist development initiatives, such as the OTC Opera Hub and its commitment to new work, would continue under the new company, in line with new strands of funding for opera introduced under the Arts Council Opera Policy and Strategy document from December 2016.

Speaking to The Journal of Music, he said,

In addition to operas that we produce ourselves, we plan a wide range of other activities such as helping and facilitating artists realise their own artistic projects and the development of an education and outreach programme. What I find exciting about the years ahead is that now we will have several strands of opera under one roof; major favourites from the opera repertoire (such as La Traviata, Carmen, etc), a range of programming of less familiar titles… together with a focus on contemporary opera which will feature some of Ireland’s leading artistic voices.

Upcoming productions
Opera Theatre Company and Wide Open Opera have been responsible for several high-profile opera productions in Ireland in recent years. Productions have included The Barber of Seville (WOO at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and National Opera House in 2016), Don Giovanni (OTC at Gaiety Theatre Dublin and Cork Opera House in 2016), Acis and Galatea (OTC; ten performances throughout Ireland) and The Last Hotel (WOO co-production with Landmark Productions in Edinburgh, Dublin, London, New York and Luxembourg from 2015 to 17).  

Next week, Wide Open Opera and Landmark will present the world premiere of The Second Violinist by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh at the Galway International Arts Festival (26–30 July).

Opera Theatre Company have also recently announced that it will stage a unique concert performance in October of Robert O’Dwyer’s Eithne (1909) – a romantic opera in the Irish language that has not been heard for over a century.

For full details on the new company announcement, and upcoming productions, visit www.opera.ie and www.wideopenopera.ie

Published on 10 July 2017

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