Opera Collective Ireland presents: Vagabones by Raymond Deane

Opera Collective Ireland presents: Vagabones by Raymond Deane

Thursday, 12 September 2019, 8.00pm

an opera by Raymond Deane
in association with Crash Ensemble
Based on the play Trespasses by Emma Donoguhe

Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Dublin 6 & 7 September, 8pm // An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk10 September, 8pm // St Mary’s Collegiate Church, Youghal, Co. Cork // 12 September, 8pm // Theatre Royal, Waterford13 September, 8pm //

Following the outstanding success of The Return of Ulysses at Kilkenny Arts Festival 2018, Opera Collective Ireland presents the World Première of Raymond Deane’s Vagabones. Based on Emma Donoghue’s stage adaptation of her 1996 radio play Trespasses, the opera with a libretto by Renate Debrun is a fictionalisation of the judge’s own account of the case of Florence Newton in Youghal – one of only a handful of witch trials that ever took place in Ireland. Set in the small Co. Cork town over three days in 1661, the opera works as a moving tale of conflicted human emotions and stratagems, while deftly touching on issues of gender, fundamentalism, imperialism and the clash of cultures.

With a stellar cast of Irish talent, directed by Ben Barnes and the musicians of Crash Ensemble, Vagabones will be a culmination of great writing, superb theatre and thrilling music.

“Deane’s music was forceful and dynamic … I suspect nothing on Ireland’s opera stage, north or south, this year will equal this remarkable achievement.”
The Sunday Business Post on Raymond Deane’s opera The Alma Fetish (2013)

The author Emma Donoghue writes:

“In the mid 90s, when I came across the 1661 trial record of Florence Newton, the ‘Witch of Youghal’, what seized me was how rare a situation it illuminated – it’s one of only a tiny handful of Irish witch hunts – and how interesting the details were. The case grew out of Protestant/Catholic and settler/native misunderstandings and tensions that still affect the Northern Irish peace process (as well as the politics of other colonized nations) today. This story of a kiss that makes someone violently ill also asked questions about powerless women, what they might have to resort to for survival, and whether solidarity and tenderness might be possible between them. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible was one helpful reference, but also Brian Friel’s Translations.

The first incarnation of Trespasses was as a radio play for RTÉ, because my concept was “voices in the dark”: I wanted to see if I could explore Florence Newton’s persecution not in the dramatic spotlight of the courtroom drama but through three days of her imprisonment, so I gave her a fictional boy cellmate to talk to. I tried to make sense of the experiences that motivated the accuser, Mary Longdon, in terms both of epilepsy and her isolated position as an immigrant servant. When Trespasses moved on stage as a two-act theatre production, the story took on a more complex social quality as well as a vivid physicality. With this adaptation into the chamber opera Vagabones*, I am absolutely delighted that the tangled story of this troubled town is coming to life again in a whole new form.”

*Libretto by Renate Debrun.

Raymond Deane Composer
Renate Debrun Librettist
Ben Barnes Director
Sinéad Hayes Conductor
Libby Seward Movement Director
Monica Frawley Set & costume design
John Comiskey Lighting design

Rory Dunne Valentine Greatrakes
Carolyn Holt Florence Newton
Kelli-Ann Masterson Donal O’Dare
Sarah Power Mary Longdon
Rory Musgrave The Mayor
Ross Scanlon John Pyne
Fionn Ó hAlmhain Ned/The jailer



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