Our contributor Cathy Desmond selects her highlights of the year

Our contributor Cathy Desmond selects her highlights of the year

Opera

Irish National Opera closed out their last season with a handsome production of Mozart’s Magic Flute with a Victorian opulence that seemed right at home in the grand old Gaiety Theatre. Raymond Deane’s operatic version of the Florence Newton witch trial was great drama with a vivid score.

At Wexford, a production of Massenet’s Don Quichotte delighted festival audiences.

Trimmed of sets and costumes, the Cork Opera House concert presentation of Tosca proved that great singing and bright red cassocks were enough to make a marvellous evening.

Pressed to choose one to see again, the INO production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola charmed with terrific performances and fabulous sets that exploited the height and depth of BGE Theatre. The production will be available to watch online on New Years’ Day.

Classical

Harpsichord virtuoso Kristian Bezuidenhout was mesmerising with the Irish Baroque Orchestra heard in Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford. Finghin Collins was flanked by two panels of the magnificent Ros Tapestry at the Waterford leg of his nationwide tour adding a visual dimension to the splendid virtuosity.

Book

Poet Áine Uí Fhoghlú has gathered a compendium of local oral history from the Déise Gaeltacht in an attractive bilingual coffee table book, Scéalta agus Seanchas.

Play

An extraordinary sold out three-week run for Nolan’s new play set in Waterford, The Red Iron recalled the glory days of the Red Kettle Theatre Company

Podcast

Paul Doran and Pádraig Ó Tuama launched Tenx9 as a small monthly gathering, in the front room of the Black Box, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. A selection of the contributors was heard on a programme made for BBC Radio 4 Extra.

TV & Radio

I listened to the Maria Bailey infamous ‘Swing gate’ interview with Sean O’Rourke on a small transistor radio on a bus in Dublin. I almost missed my stop. House of Commons Live was compelling viewing. Succession, season 2, based on a mega rich media family was my favourite TV drama.

Dance

I was thrilled to see Moscow Royal Ballet’s production of Swan Lake on the stage of Theatre Royal Waterford. I enjoyed an unusual production of the story of Salomé from the contemporary dance company Éiru with a score by Kinsale native Fiachra Ó Corragáin at the Taibhearc Theatre in Galway.

Lowlight

Whatever about the pros and cons of closing the Lyric offices in Limerick, the manner in which RTÉ management communicated with their employees there seemed extremely callous and poorly managed for a company whose raison d’etre is communication.

Most enjoyable piece you worked on

I enjoyed meeting David Agler at Wexford Opera House during his final season as director of the opera festival. The Canadian was a most gracious and interesting interviewee and gave me a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes at the festival that he has steered for the last 15 years.

Looking forward to...

Cellisimo in Galway: April. As part of the capital of culture activities, Music for Galway are assembling a weekend festival dedicated to the cello. Latvian cellist, Mischa Maisky headlines.

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