Irish National Opera (INO) opens its debut 2018 season tonight at Dublin’s National Concert Hall, with performances from leading Irish singers including Orla Boylan, Claudia Boyle and Sharon Carty, accompanied by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.
They will present seven operas this year, five of which are new productions. Artistic Director Fergus Sheil is focusing on a mix of classical operas and contemporary works. The season will tour across 13 venues in Ireland and London’s Barbican Centre, and Sheil hopes to build new audiences in Ireland and beyond. The company is born out of a renewed commitment to opera from the Irish Arts Council, who has dramatically increased their funding of this area of music.
The opening production is Thomas Adès’s chamber opera Powder Her Face, in collaboration with Northern Ireland Opera. Following this will be the INO’s first major production – Patrick Mason’s new staging of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Summer will see performances at the Galway International Arts Festival of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and later in the year the company will take a revival of Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh’s The Second Violinist to London. The season will also feature Tom Credd’s new work, The Tales of Hoffman, Bartók’s Bluebeard Castle and Verdi’s Aida. Long-term plans include a production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in Dublin, where it was last staged in 1913.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for us to create something new,’ says Sheil. ‘We have the chance to make a bold statement to the public in Ireland about our world-class artists and bring as many of them as possible to the broadest audiences.’
Fergus Sheil works with opera companies and orchestras across Ireland and the UK as a conductor and creative producer. He established Wide Open Opera in 2012, following the closure of Opera Ireland, and remains their Artistic Director.
He has plans to work with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Irish Baroque Orchestra and Crash Ensemble, and the company will likely create its own orchestra for some productions.
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.