NI Opera Commissions New Work Focused on Housing Stress
Northern Ireland Opera has commissioned a new opera that will be created in collaboration with children and teenagers experiencing homeslessness and housing stress in Northern Ireland. Composed by Neil Martin with a libretto by writer Fionnuala Kennedy, the work will be performed at the Belfast Children’s Festival in 2022.
‘This new opera is inspired by the difficult situations faced by families in housing stress,’ said Kennedy, who, alongside Martin, will work directly with a group of young people aged 13 to 19. ‘These young people include those living in sheltered accommodation, refugees and those seeking asylum and those in housing stress’.
Soprano Emma Morwood – who featured in Irish National Opera’s production of Griselda – is also involved in the project, creating outreach programmes for the production. In addition, the project will involve the Welcome Organisation, a homelessness charity in Belfast.
The opera will be for a teenage/young adult audience. Cameron Menzies, who began as the new Artistic Director of Northern Ireland Opera last November, commented:
For a long while now I have noticed the lack of work designed specifically for the teen/young adult age groups in relation to music and storytelling through opera. Opera companies generally focus a lot of outreach attention on very young and early school age children. These programmes are designed to open up young people’s experiences within the arts and with storytelling through music, so I feel we must look at how we develop these programs to also include and engage with the ages of 13–19. Our new commission will deal with this directly, by including these age groups in the creation of an opera that is designed specifically with them in mind.
The work will be performed by Northern Ireland Opera with the Ulster Youth Orchestra.