10 of the best opera and classical events this year

Cathy Desmond rounds up the best opera and classical events coming up in Ireland and further afield

10 of the best opera and classical events this year

1. Chamber Music on Valentia

Valentia Island, Co Kerry;

August 19-21

Valentia Island is the scenic location for a fledgling chamber music festival. Director, Mary Dullea is joined by her colleagues from the Fidelio Trio and guests for French chamber music and song, a complete Beethoven cycle, oboe quartets by Mozart and Britten and Moeran’s Piano Trio. Rhona Clarke is the featured composer. Master of traditional song, Seamus Begley, gives a concert and workshop.

  • www.chambermusiconvalentia.com 

2. The Merry Widow

Cork Opera House

Aug 27

Following on from the success of La Traviata with Majella Cullagh dazzling as Violetta, Cork Operatic Society presents another concert performance at the Leeside opera house. Cara O’Sullivan is the eponymous merry widow in Franz Lehár’s light-hearted operatic slice of Viennese schmaltz. Trinidad tenor, Ronald Samm, heard here in Orpheus and Pagliacci is back to play Count Danilo. John O’Brien is at the helm. Just the sugar kick you need to to banish those back-to-school blues.

  • www.corkoperahouse.ie 

3. New Ross Piano Festival

New Ross, Co Wexford

September 22-25

The 11th year of this niche festival features leading international pianists, Nicholas Angelich and Piers Lane who join director, Finghin Collins for three concerts. There will be piano quintets with the Ebène Quartet.

There are world premieres of the final five pieces in the Ros Tapestry Suite. Jazz pianists Phil Ware and Patrick Mollitor give recitals in unusual venues. ‘Play Me’ pianos will also be installed in various venues for the public to have a go.

  • www.newrosspianofestival.com 

4. Mozart’s Don Giovanni

Gaiety Theatre Dublin and Opera House Cork;

29 Sept 29-Oct 7

As part of the 30th anniversary programme, Opera Theatre Company has commissioned Roddy Doyle to create a new translation of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni based on the legendary seducer. Welsh baritone David Kempster stars in the title role together with a cast of Irish and international opera stars, including soprano Máire Flavin and mezzo soprano Tara Erraught.

5. The Piper and the Faerie Queen

Camerata Kilkenny with David Power; Tours to Sligo, Waterford, Kilkenny, Dublin and Cork

Sept 25th – Oct 16

Uilleann pipes and a Baroque ensemble may seem an unlikely musical alliance but David Power has a track record of unusual collaborations. The programme features Irish traditional music and music and works by Biber, Telemann, Handel, O Carolan, Dowland and Purcell.

The recital in Waterford on Sept 29 marks the opening of the 75th unbroken season of recitals hosted by Waterford-Music, the longest running music series in Ireland.

  • www.waterford-music.org 

6. Wexford Opera Festival


Oct 26– Nov 6

Wexford has carved out a niche of presenting rare operas for an international clientele. This year’s opening nights for two of the productions are sold out but tickets were available when writing for the opening of Samuel Barber’s first opera, Vanessa. The big productions are just one strand of the activities in the coastal town. There are good value package for daytime events.

You can attend a lunchtime recital by the stars, take in a short opera and have lunch all for €60 and be home again by nightfall. With a plethora of art exhibitions and a lively fringe, the festival is worth a trip even if opera is not your thing.

  • www.wexfordopera.com 

7. Imagine Arts Festival


Oct 28-30

Operating on a fraction of the budget of its neighbour, Kilkenny Arts, Waterford’s Imagine Festival consistently brightens up the late autumnal gloom with varied and novel programmes to suit a wide variety of tastes.

The classical music strand features the premiere of a new opera by poet Mark Roper and composer Eric Sweeney, the team who brought us The Invader opera in 2014. The Vanbrugh String Quartet in their final tour with Gregory Ellis as leader, stop off at one of Ireland’s most elegant music venues in the heart of the city’s museum quarter, the Viking Triangle.

  • www.imagineartsfestival.com 

8. RTÉ Concert Orchestra with Jeff Mills

BGE Theatre, Dublin

Oct 30

At the Bord Gais Theatre, classical and electronic worlds collide when the RTÉ Concert Orchestra meet pioneering American techno wizard, Jeff Mills. Mills has performed the presentation ‘Light from the Outside World’ with orchestras all over the world.

  • www.nch.ie /www.bgetheatre.ie  

9. BBC Proms


Until Sept 10

Performances from leading orchestras and musicians continue at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. ‘Promenading’ or standing for concerts whilst traditional isn’t compulsory and you can usually pick up a ticket for a seat. There are some alternate venues.

Proms in the Park at Hyde Park features the tenor, Juan Diego Florez and music from Matilda the Musical. This year the most unusual venue is the Bold Tendencies Car Park in Peckham, south London when the ‘Multi-Story Orchestra’ make their Proms debut with a programme by the American minimalist composer, Steve Reich.

  • www.bbc.co.uk/proms 

10. The Merchant of Venice

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Sept 16, and on tour

Andre Tchaikowsky, not to be confused with his Russian namesake, was a 20th century Polish composer who experienced childhood in the Warsaw ghetto which no doubt informed his version of The Merchant of Venice. The opera languished for over three decades until it was premiered at Bregenz Festival in Austria in 2013. This is the first opportunity to see this production in the UK.

The Welsh National Opera season also includes Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate and Verdi’s Macbeth as part of its Shakespeare tribute.

  • www.wno.org.uk 

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