Irish National Opera’s ’20 Shots of Opera’ Launches on 17 December

Raphaela Mangan and Rachel Croash in Hannah Peel's opera 'Close' (Photo: Ste Murray)

Irish National Opera’s ’20 Shots of Opera’ Launches on 17 December

Company's largest commissioning project to date features 20 composers including Gerald Barry, Linda Buckley, Andrew Hamilton, Karen Power, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and Jennifer Walshe.

On Thursday 17 December at 12pm, Irish National Opera’s 20 Shots of Opera series, featuring 20 new compact operas by composers in Ireland, will be available to view for free online.

One of INO’s largest projects to date, 20 Shots… was borne out of the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic.

The series will be launched at 5pm on Thursday with a 50-minute streamed panel discussion featuring series director Hugh O’Conor, singers Gavan Ring and Naomi Louisa O’Connell, and composers Emma O’Halloran and David Coonan. There will also be a preview of a selection of the operas with commentary from the artists involved.

Laundry dilemmas and ecological collapse
Presented with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the 20 operas were newly commissioned by INO for casts of one or two singers and an orchestra of up to eleven players. Their subjects embrace everything from Beethoven’s letters about troublesome servants and laundry dilemmas (Gerald Barry) and a response to a terrifying walk through a Covid Hot Zone (Andrew Hamilton) to the challenges of dating during lockdown (Hannah Peel), the true story of a wartime shipwreck of a boat carrying sex workers (Gráinne Mulvey), an Irish-language opera exploring times of rift and rupture (Linda Buckley), and a ballad of extinction, biodiversity loss and ecological collapse (Benedict Schlepper-Connolly).

The full list of composers includes Éna Brennan, Irene Buckley, Robert Coleman, David Coonan, Alex Dowling, Peter Fahey, Michael Gallen, Jenn Kirby, Conor Linehan, Conor Mitchell, Emma O’Halloran, Karen Power, Evangelia Rigaki and Jennifer Walshe.

Conducting the RTÉ CO are INO Artistic Director Fergus Sheil and Elaine Kelly, a member of the company’s artistic development programme ABL Aviation Opera Studio. The cast for the operas includes Orla Boylan, Claudia Boyle, Naomi Louisa O’Connell, Sinéad Campbell Wallace and Gavan Ring, and rising stars such as Andrew Gavin, Rachel Goode and Emma Nash. The operas were filmed in various parts of Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre.

‘I wanted a project that would involve a huge array of Irish talent,’ says Sheil. ‘Composers, writers, singers, instrumentalists, directors and designers. But one where everybody would work in small groups or on their own. Something that would be both small and large at the same time. Something that would be resilient as a project and not easily fall victim to the fluctuations of future circumstances. I think of it as a huge, collective act of creativity and defiance.’

See the full list of operas below. The operas will be available to view on the INO’s YouTube channel from 12pm on Thursday 17 December and the launch is at 5pm the same day. For further details, visit


Gerald Barry (music) Ludwig van Beethoven (words) Mrs Streicher
Gavan Ring tenor | Stephen Irvine tuba | Gerald Barry director 
A setting of letters Beethoven wrote to Nannette Streicher about his laundry/food/servant problems. He whips himself into a frenzy of paranoia and is even able to make unfavourable comparisons between his maid’s poor behaviour and Christ’s suffering on Golgotha.

Éna Brennan (music & words) | Rupture
Rachel Goode soprano | Sarah Richmond mezzo-soprano | Jo Mangan director | Elaine Kelly conductor
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy… We fall victim to a conscience poisoned by society’s repressing landscape. A rupture occurs within ourselves – the timeless fight between good and evil.

Irene Buckley (music) | Jessica Traynor (words) | Ghost Apples
Kelli-Ann Masterson soprano | Conor Hanratty director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
A scientist studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 1.26 million square kilometre floating mass of discarded plastic, has an apocalyptic vision of the future.

Linda Buckley (music) | Doireann Ní Ghríofa (words) | Glaoch
Sarah Shine soprano | Gemma Ní Bhriain mezzo-soprano | Hugh O’Conor director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
When conversations occur through screens, our eyes can’t meet. Our connection falters, then breaks. In these times of rift and rupture, who haunts the glitch?

Robert Coleman (music) | Mark Boyle (words) | The Colour Green
David Howes bass-baritone | Holly Keating animator | Hugh O’Conor director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
Mark Boyle, having given up technology for a life in rural Galway, meditates upon his daily rituals; of writing by hand and the ease to which sleep finds him.

David Coonan (music) | Dylan Coburn Gray (words) | verballing
Amy Ní Fhearraigh soprano | Patrick Moynihan animator | Caitriona McLaughlin director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
A Garda is coached on how to answer awkward questions. It’s awkward. Awkward question for you: what’s the difference between answering truthfully and telling the truth?

Alex Dowling (music) | Mark O’Halloran (words) | Her Name
Sean Hayden boy soprano | Hugh O’Conor director | Elaine Kelly conductor
At a boarding school in Dublin City, a young boy secretly mourns the loss of his mother.

Peter Fahey (music) Trad., adapted Peter Fahey (words) Through and Through
Daire Halpin soprano | Anabelle Comyn director | Fergus Sheil conductor
A traditional ballad reimagined as a kind of fairytale in which a noblewoman murders her lover, is taunted by a magical talking bird (who has witnessed the crime) and, ultimately, is accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.

Michael Gallen (music & words) | At a Loss
Orla Boylan soprano | Michael Gallen director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
A woman sits awake in a screen-lit room, awaiting news about her mother’s imminent passing. Tuning into the tides of electrical hum around her, she wonders about the parallels between this power and the force that gives life to the body.

Andrew Hamilton (music) | Anon. medieval English (words) | erth upon erth
Sinéad Campbell Wallace soprano | Jo Mangan director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
A response to a terrifying walk through a Covid Hot Zone in a Birmingham hospital in April as seen through the lens of a Medieval English poem.

Jenn Kirby (music & words) | Dichotomies of Lockdown
Aebh Kelly mezzo-soprano | Andrew Gavin tenor | Aoife Spillane-Hinks director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
Two people navigate the various dichotomous stages of lockdown, finding beauty in the mundane, love for and fear of humanity. Separated and together.

Conor Linehan (music) | Louis Lovett (words) | The Patient Woman
Imelda Drumm mezzo-soprano | Brenton Ryan tenor | Muireann Ahern, Louis Lovett directors | Fergus Sheil conductor
Fail me not, Doc. You’re all I’ve got, Doc. Join the dots, Doc. A three-act tragicomedy where a woman finds the strength to embrace her doctor’s failure.

Conor Mitchell (music & words) | A message for Marty (or The Ring)
Emma Nash soprano | Carolyn Dobbin mezzo-soprano | Davey Kelleher director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
When Marty breaks her Jackie’s heart, her sister takes to Facebook video. A comic short which shows what happens when Belfast girls lose their temper in a very, very public way!

Gráinne Mulvey (music) | Anne Le Marquand Hartigan (words) | La Corbière
Mairéad Buicke soprano | Anne Marie Gibbons mezzo-soprano | Jo Mangan director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
The tragic, true story of a wartime shipwreck shows the dehumanising power of fear and the consequent objectification and brutalisation of a group of women.

Emma O’Halloran (music) | Mark O’Halloran (words) | The Wait
Naomi Louisa O’Connell mezzo-soprano | Michael Barker-Caven director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
While the waters rise outside, a woman sits upstairs in her house, waiting.

Hannah Peel (music) | Stella Feehily (words) | Close
Rachel Croash soprano | Raphaela Mangan mezzo-soprano | Sarah Baxter director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
Sam and Andi have been Zoom dating during lockdown but today they are meeting for the first time. Is it okay to get close?

Karen Power (music) | Ione (words) | Touch
Naomi Louisa O’Connell mezzo-soprano | Gyula Nagy baritone | Jo Mangan director | Fergus Sheil conductor 
A solitary man and woman become aware that their separate worlds consist of uniquely enclosed environments, in which the sounds of five words are their only means of communication and perhaps their only means of escape.

Evangelia Rigaki (music) | Marina Carr (words) | The Gift
Doreen Curran mezzo-soprano | Sean McGinley actor | Jo Mangan director | Fergus Sheil conductor
A meditation on the love of a father for his estranged daughter. A last meeting, a reparation, a benign waiting to tell her goodbye.

Benedict Schlepper-Connolly (music & words) | Dust
Michelle O’Rourke mezzo-soprano | Stephanie Dufresne director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
A ballad of extinction, biodiversity loss and ecological collapse, Dust is a quiet lament from a near future.

Jennifer Walshe (music & words) | Libris Solar
Claudia Boyle soprano | Tom Creed director | Elaine Kelly conductor 
A marine biologist meditates on the enigmatic figure of Libris Solar, an alchemical blend of human, non-human and neoprene.

Published on 15 December 2020

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