A selection of upcoming classical and opera events that you won't want to miss

Cathy Desmond selects some of the classical and opera highlights of the next few months.

1. The First Hundred Years

Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray

Thursday, Jan 17

A special concert curated by Music Network musician in residence, Eamon Sweeney will reflect on 100 years of the Irish Republic through poetry, music, and song - including a newly composed work by Fiachra Trench and featuring the Irish Chamber Orchestra alongside contributions by guest artists: Mary Coughlan, Theo Dorgan and Sonamus, an ensemble featuring Sweeney on guitar and flautist Cormac Breathnach.



2. Spotlight Chamber Music Series

Triskel Arts Centre, Cork

Saturday, Feb 2

Following the success of its inaugural season, the Spotlight Chamber Music Series returned to the Triskel Arts Centre this year. The fourth and final concert of the Spotlight Chamber Music Series brings together six distinguished classical musicians in a programme of Romantic string sextets by Brahms and Strauss. The featured composer for the second series is Cork native Sam Perkin’s. Simon Aspell and David Kenny perform his Duet for Two Violas in Christchurch in Cork city in a lunchtime slot.



3. Orfeo ed Euridice

Irish National Opera, touring

February 7-March 2

If you missed choreographer Emma Martin’s dance-inspired production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, a sold out highlight of the last Galway Arts festival, there will be an opportunity to catch this Baroque classic when this co-production with dance company United Fall tours to 11 venues nationwide, including Everyman Cork and Siamsa Tire, Tralee.



4. Voices from the Edge

Irish Chamber Orchestra, Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin; and St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick

February 13/14

One of the legacies of the late Micheal O’ Suilleabhain was the establishment of a professional orchestra outside of Dublin and the Irish Chamber Orchestra continue to bring world class orchestral performances to audiences at their base in Limerick and elsewhere. Austrian conductor, Thomas Zehetamair returns in March for an all-Mozart programme. In February ICO welcome back principal conductor, Jörg Widmann, for a programme with a grand sweep. Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Korngold’s seldom-heard Symphonic Serenade with Widmann’s own Aria for Strings.

Mendelssohn’s teenage impressions of a Swiss Alpine journey in Symphony No. 9 completes the programme.



5.Ortús Chamber Music Festival Cork

March 1-3

Mairéad Hickey and Sinéad O’Halloran have again been working their contacts list to attract some top Irish and international musicians to such venues as UCC, the Cork School of Music and the arts centre in Watergrasshill. American violinist William Hagen and Dublin violinist Patrick Rafter are among those attending, while Clare uileann piper Fergal Breen will be playing with a string quartet.


6. Barcelona Obertura Spring Festival

March 4-17

The Catalan capital showcases three of its major venues, the 19th century opera house, Gran Teatre del Liceu, the gorgeous Palau de la Musica and the modern l’Auditori in a particularly active period featuring top notch international artists. Star German soprano, Diana Damrau features in a production of Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas. American countertenor Bejun Mehta appears in Handel’s Rodelinda and the young Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov plays Rachmaninov with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev , just some of the highlights in this attractive destination.


7. Madame Butterfly

INO Bord Gais Energy Theatre and Cork Opera House

March 24- April 5

Irish National Opera’s major new production of 2019 is one of the top ten most frequently performed operas worldwide. Puccini’s Madame Butterfly big production for Spring is directed by Ben Barnes and features soprano Celine Byrne in the title role and tenor Julian Hubbard as Lieutenant Pinkerton. Timothy Redmond conducts the INO Chorus and RTE Concert Orchestra.



8. Four Hands | Four Voices

NCH Dublin

March 29

Pianist Niall Kinsella in his Irish Songmakers’ Series has been shaking up the format of the song recital in a daytime slot and has put several attractive programmes together for the remainder of the season. Four Hands |Four Voices showcases the Romantic period repertoire for piano duo and voices. Welsh pianist Rebecca Cohen joins Kinsella and four of Ireland’s best young emerging singers Maria McGrann, Sarah Richmond, Andrew Gavin and Kevin Neville to perform piano duets and vocal quartets by Scubert, Schumann and Brahms.



9. The Marriage of Figaro

Cork Opera House

March 24

The Cork Opera House 2019 Opera Concert Series commences with a concert performance of Mozart’s masterpiece. Widely considered to be the greatest comic opera ever written The

Marriage of Figaro is bursting with instantly recognisable music. The beautiful duettino Sull’aria features poignantly in the classic film The Shawshank Redemption, while the Overture is the most famous piece of music from the opera. The series will feature the Cork Opera House

Concert Orchestra led by conductor John O’Brien, a chorus from Cork Operatic Society, and internationally celebrated soloists.



10. The Ring Cycle

Leipzig Opera House, Germany

April 6-14 and May 1-5

Wagner fans disappointed in not securing tickets for the annual pilgrimage to the Bayreuth Festival might do well to consider a trip to Leipzig where the first complete Ring Cycle in 40 years will be performed at Leipzig Opera House. Over five days in May, you could attend all four operas of the Ring Cycle in the city of Wagner’s birth as well as taking in all the musical delights of the city where Bach spent much of his life. A 90 minute train journey brings you to Dresden, home to the impressive Semper Oper which presents productions of two other Wagner operas in its current season. On March 1st and 2nd there are back to back performances of The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser.



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