Opera takes centre stage in Northern Ireland

Arts Council to fund Opera Company NI, which aims to promote Opera in Northern Ireland

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Opera lovers in Northern Ireland will be delighted to hear that the Arts Council have allocated £374,000 of arts funding towards the creation of a brand new opera company. The new creative venture, Opera Company NI, aims to broaden the appeal of opera in Northern Ireland, while developing fresh, local talent. Productions will be made more relevant to modern audiences in the hope that they will attract a wider turnout from a broader range of ages and social backgrounds.

The new opera company, which will be based in County Down, will incorporate resources from existing companies Castleward Opera and Opera Fringe, a move that is also reflected in constitution of its higher management. Roy Bailie, former board member of Castleward Opera, has been appointed as chair, while Bryan Coburn, former chairman of Opera Fringe, has been named vice-chair.

‘Opera is regarded as one of the most dramatic and emotive forms of art but it can sometimes have an image of exclusivity,’ says Rosemary Kelly, chair of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. ‘We want to change that perception. Opera Company NI will provide new ways for local people to engage with opera, raising the standards of local performances as well as providing a platform to showcase the very best international artists.’

Development is still at a relatively early stage, with the appointment of an artistic director to be made in the coming months. Opera enthusiasts – and hopefully converts – will have to wait a little while longer for news on the fledgling company’s first season.