La bohème livestream concert programme

irishnationalopera

Irish National Opera and Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

PUCCINI

LA BOHÈME


IRISH NATIONAL OPERA

PRINCIPAL FUNDER

GIACOMO PUCCINI 1858-1924

LA BOHÈME

1896

CORPORATE

PARTNER

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH BORD GÁIS ENERGY THEATRE

OPERA IN FOUR ACTS

Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after Henry Murger’s book

Scènes de la vie de bohème.

First performance, Teatro Regio, Turin, 1 February 1896.

First Irish performance, in English, Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, 25 August 1897.

SUNG IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, including 20 minute interval after Act II.

A separate studio recording is being made for future release.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Ronan O’Reilly and all at the Artane School of Music, Stephen

Faloon, Claire Whelan and all at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

Gavin Quinn, Aedín Cosgrove and Pan Pan Theatre.

PERFORMANCE 2021

Livestream from Bord Gáis Energy Theatre Dublin

Saturday 13 March

03


SYNOPSIS

The opera is based

on Henry Murger’s

Scènes de la vie de

bohème (Scenes of

Bohemian Life) and

depicts life in the

Latin quarter in Paris

around 1830.

ACT I

We find ourselves in a garret where the artist Marcello is painting a

picture while Rodolfo, a poet, is busy on the last act of his new drama.

It is very cold and as they have no fire they use the manuscript of

Rodolfo’s play for fuel. The unexpected happens. After Colline,

a philosopher, arrives with books he hasn’t been able to sell, he

is followed by the musician Schaunard, who brings home food

and wine and relates the story of his good fortune. The others are

too hungry to listen, but just go on eating and drinking. They are

interrupted by a knock at the door. It is the landlord Benoît, who is

calling to collect the rent. The bohemians sit him down and ply him

with enough drink to get him drunk. He tells them about some of his

amorous episodes, and when he incidentally remarks that he is a

married man, they fake indignation and throw him out. The quartet

decide to spend the rent money on dinner at the neighbourhood’s

Café Momus. Three of them head off while Rodolfo remains to put

the finishing touches to his drama. He makes little progress, and

indeed is rather glad to find his work interrupted by the entrance

of the seamstress Mimì, a neighbour, whose candle blew out as

she was going upstairs. Rodolfo lights it and she goes off, only to

return again, saying she has forgotten her key. Then both candles

go out, and the pair stumble against one another in their search

for it. Rodolfo finds the key and conceals it in his pocket so they

can spend more time together. They start sharing parts of their

life-stories. From outside they hear the voices of Rodolfo’s friends

calling. The two, who have fallen for each other, decide to go

together to the café. They leave, declaring their everlasting love.

ACT II

We are brought to the Café Momus, which is situated in a busy street.

There is a great crowd of people, buying and selling. The bohemians

are enjoying the good things provided by the café. Musetta, an old

flame of Marcello’s, arrives with her latest

conquest, Alcindoro, a rich, elderly sugardaddy.

After several vain attempts to attract

Marcello’s attention, she pretends to suffer from

the effects of a tight shoe, and while her new

admirer is away at the shoe-makers to have the

shoe stretched, Musetta and Marcello become

reconciled. When the time comes to pay the bill

they realise that that Schaunard’s money is all

gone. Musetta solves the problem by leaving

her rich admirer to settle it. They all traipse off

following a band which is passing down the

street. After they’re gone, the old man arrives

back with Musetta’s shoe. The waiter hands him

the bill. Alcindoro is staggered by the amount.

ACT III

We are at a toll gate on the Orléans road into

Paris. It is early morning and the pedlars are

arriving, each declaring to the guards the

contents of their baskets. The snow is falling,

covering the steps of the little tavern where

Marcello has been hired to paint signs for the

innkeeper. Rodolfo is staying at the inn, but

the course of his love for Mimì has not run

smoothly, and they broke up the previous night.

Mimì comes to see him, and, encountering

Marcello, tells him of her troubles. As they talk

Rodolfo is heard approaching from the inn.

Mimì conceals herself behind a tree. Rodolfo

tells Marcello he wants a separation from Mimì.

But he gets no sympathy from his friend, who

instead upbraids him for stubbornness and

bad temper. Rodolfo then seeks to explain

his conduct by revealing the fact that Mimì

is too delicate, and, in fact, is dying from

consumption. The unfortunate Mimì overhears

all this and her coughing betrays her presence.

Rodolfo is stricken with remorse and pity,

and although the lovers patch things up, they

agree they will part in the spring. Musetta, in

the meantime, has another violent quarrel with

Marcello and leaves him in anger.

ACT IV

We are back in the garret in the Latin quarter.

Again we see Marcello seeming to paint and

Rodolfo seeming to write poetry. They are both

out of sorts, so when Schaunard and Colline

arrive with the dinner, they are glad of an

excuse to abandon all pretence of work. The

four engage in a burlesque of a great banquet,

and when their fun is at its climax, Musetta

and Mimì appear in the doorway. Mimi,

who had taken a new lover, some well-to-do

individual, has left him to return to spend her

last moments with Rodolfo. Her disease has

left her with scarcely strength enough to climb

the stairs. They assist her to bed, and when

Rodolfo and Mimì are left alone they recall

their past happiness. Gradually Mimì sinks

and dies in the arms of her lover.

Adapted from Irish composer Harold R White’s

Stories of the Operas, printed for the Carl Rosa Opera

Company, the company which gave the Irish premiere

of La bohème in 1897.

04

05


A YEAR OF REINVENTION

FERGUS SHEIL

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

DIEGO FASCIATI

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

We’re delighted to welcome you to our socially-distanced concert

performance of Puccini’s La bohème with our regular partners at

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. We had originally planned a fully-staged

production by director Orpha Phelan and designer Nicky Shaw,

the team who brought us such a magical vision of Rossini’s La

Cenerentola in November 2019. Circumstances don’t allow this just

now, although we will return to it later. Instead we have kept the cast

together to bring you tonight’s livestreamed concert performance.

The performance has involved exceptionally meticulous preparation.

It could only have been achieved in a large venue like Bord Gáis

Energy Theatre. We have the orchestra on the stage (everybody a

minimum of two meters from each other), the chorus in the stalls

(distanced from each other and the stage), the children’s choir in

the circle, and the marching band for the second act occupying

two boxes within the theatre. Singers who travelled from abroad

were quarantined and tested, performers were kept apart by using

different entrances and exits to the theatre. Everyone and everywhere

was regularly sanitised, and even toilets were strictly allocated.

The act of coming together to make music was only possible by

making sure nobody could come close to anybody else.

It’s just 12 months since our daily lives became dominated by the

effort of dealing with the pandemic. For many of us it’s been a year

like none other in terms of lost loved ones, disrupted livelihoods,

and unparalleled separation and isolation. Cultural life, too, was

hit early and hard and, like other arts organisations, Irish National

Opera has had to cancel everything that was originally planned

for performance since March 2020. And we’re still facing an

immediate future in which uncertainty remains the only certainty.

Yet for INO the past year turned out to be a time of busy reinvention,

of feverish behind the scenes activity, of planning with ever-shifting

sands, and of projects that have had to be continually adapted to

the unpredictability of the world in which we have been living.

Last March, the speedy and supportive intervention of the

Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon meant that, unlike some

long-established international companies, we were able to pay

cancellation fees to the artists that had been rehearsing our

production of Bizet’s Carmen. Happily, that production is not lost.

It is currently rescheduled for our next season.

Early in the pandemic, we turned our focus to a series of online

concerts, Friday Opera Sessions, in partnership with Insituto

Italiano di Cultura, Dublino. Singers and pianists made recordings

remotely in their own homes, an undertaking that turned out to

be a logistical and artistic challenge beyond what anyone had

imagined in advance. But it all helped keep a sense of operatic

community in a difficult time.

We could not perform Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio,

but we reimagined the opera as an innovative eight-part online

mini-series, Seraglio. It was mini only in the sense that it consisted

of excerpts. Seraglio employed a full cast, the Irish National Opera

Chorus and the Irish Chamber Orchestra – 55 artists, all making

recordings in their own homes. Later in the year we managed to

livestream a concert performance of this remarkable score from

the National Opera House, Wexford.

The optimism of the summer allowed us to hope we could

bounce back in September and present our 2019 world premiere

06

07


production of Brian Irvine and Netia Jones’s Least Like The Other.

Brian and Netia’s opera, performed by a single singer and three

actors, is a technical tour-de-force. It created a real buzz at its

premiere at the Galway International Arts Festival, and we are

longing to share it more widely with audiences. We rehearsed up

to dress rehearsal for performances at the Dublin Theatre Festival

last year, but eventually could not perform. We did, however, make

a ground-breaking new version of the piece with pre-recorded

orchestra and hi-tech 16-channel surround sound, and we also

filmed the work for a future installation version. We will share this

remarkable opera with you at the earliest opportunity.

Our November 2020 production of Rossini’s epic William Tell – the

first in Dublin since 1877 – is now also rescheduled to a future

season. In its place we pivoted to another project, one no less

ambitious although artistically completely different. Within the

span of six months we commissioned 20 Shots of Opera, 20 new

short operas, rehearsed, recorded, filmed, edited and released

them online. We engaged an enormous community of talent –

over 160 individuals – with everyone working in very small groups

in controlled environments. These short operas attracted huge

national and international acclaim, including a five-star review from

The Observer. We are grateful to all the artists and technicians who

collaborated with us to realise this project so imaginatively. And we

thank the many generous donors who further supported us last year

by commissioning some of the works.

For the moment, all of our work has to take place online. This

includes everything from coaching sessions for the artists in our

ABL Aviation Opera Studio to writing and design workshops for

participants in Out of the Ordinary, our community virtual reality

opera, which has been shortlisted for a 2021 Fedora Digital Prize.

We will announce new projects and productions for the first part of

the year shortly, and our hope is that health regulations will allow

us to present live performances to live audiences in the second

half of this year.

We have not been working alone. We applaud the extraordinary

achievements of the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht,

Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, on behalf of the arts sector.

Her efforts to save, protect and support the arts have been both

timely and far-sighted. The Arts Council is our principal funder.

We are grateful not only for the council’s financial investment but

also for all the guidance, support, flexibility and understanding it

has provided since the very start of the pandemic. Finally, a thank

you to our donors who continue to support the cause of opera

in Ireland with their generous donations, and to all those who

continue to send us messages of support and encouragement.

Your generosity makes a world of difference.

We hope you enjoy Celine Byrne’s first time to sing Mimì – her

favourite role – with an Irish opera company every bit as much as

we have enjoyed bringing her performance to you.

In the final months of the year we also managed to livestream a

series of concerts from historic buildings in collaboration with the

Office of Public Works. These featured three of our top artists –

mezzo-sopranos Sharon Carty, Tara Erraught and Paula Murrihy.

FERGUS SHEIL

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

DIEGO FASCIATI

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

08

09


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Dominica Williams, Javier Ferrer & Sophia Preidel in INO, United Fall 7 Galway International

Arts Festival’s production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, July 2018. Photo by Pat Redmond.

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23 11


CAST IN ORDER OF SINGING

Marcello David Bizic Baritone

a painter

Rodolfo Merūnas Vitulskis Tenor

a poet

Colline John Molloy Bass

a philosopher

Schaunard Ben McAteer Baritone

a musician

Benoît Eddie Wade Baritone

their landlord

Alcindoro Eddie Wade Bass

a state councillor and Musetta’s admirer

Mimì Celine Byrne Soprano

a seamstress

Musetta Anna Devin Soprano

a grisette

Parpignol Fearghal Curtis Tenor

an itinerant toy vendor

Doganiere David Howes Bass-Baritone

a customs official

Sergente Rory Dunne Bass-Baritone

a customs sergeant

COVERS

CREATIVE TEAM

Conductor

Production & Lighting Designer

Assistant Conductor & Chorus Director

Répétiteur

Assistant Répétiteur

IRISH NATIONAL OPERA CHORUS

Soprano

Lorna Breen

Rheanne Breen

Kelli-Ann Masterson

Maria Matthews

Muireann Mulrooney

Lauren Scully

Mezzo-sopranos

Margaret Bridge

Madeline Judge

Aebh Kelly

Sarah Kilcoyne

Bríd Ní Ghruagáin

Katie Richardson

McCrea

Sergio Alapont

Sinéad McKenna

Elaine Kelly

Aoife O’Sullivan

Luke Lally Maguire

Tenor

Ciarán Crangle

Fearghal Curtis

Keith Kearns

Philip Keegan

Richard Shaffrey

Jacek Wislocki

CHILDREN’S CHORUS INDEPENDENT THEATRE WORKSHOP

Iñaki Calvo

Kate Carbery

Catherine Coll

Saibh Collier

Genevieve Costello

Doherty

Amy Deane

Tom Egan (soloist)

Lexi Forde

Emma Griffin

Priya Hobson

Joya Hobson

Aibhin Hughes

Elijah Kenny

Katie Alma Lynch

Lucy Mahon

Ellen McAuliffe

Tess Mullarkey

Bass

Desmond Capliss

Rory Dunne

Jakob Mahase

Matthew Mannion

Kevin Neville

Fionn Ó hAlmhain

Ruby Mulligan

Arthur Peregrine

Eve Traynor

Mimì Rachel Goode Soprano

Musetta Kelli-Ann Masterson Soprano

Colline David Howes Bass-Baritone

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IRISH NATIONAL OPERA ORCHESTRA

STAGE BAND

First Violin

Sarah Sew (leader)

Lidia Jewloszewicz-Clarke

David O’Doherty

Siún Milne

Emily Thyne

Anita Vedres

Jane Hackett

Cliodhna Ryan

Maria Ryan

Cillian Ó Breacháin

Second Violin

Larissa O’Grady

Aoife Dowdall

Christopher Quaid

Christine Kenny

Justyna Dabek

Katie O’Connor

Rachel Du

Robert Mahon

Violas

Adele Johnson

John Murphy

Lisa Dowdall

Nathan Sherman

Karen Dervan

Anna Gioria

Cellos

Ailbhe McDonagh

Yue Tang

Yseult Cooper-Stockdale

Aoife Burke

Paula Hughes

Alona Kliuchka

Double basses

Dominic Dudley

Aura Stone

Maeve Sheil

Paul Stephens

Flutes

Susan Doyle

Lina Andonovska

Piccolo

Kieran Moynihan

Oboes

Suzie Thorn

Jenny Magee

Cor Anglais

David Agnew

Clarinet

Conor Sheil

Suzanne Brennan

Bass Clarinet

Deirdre O’Leary

Bassoons

Ates Kirkan

Clíona Warren

Horns

Liam Duffy

Hannah Miller

Jacqueline McCarthy

Peter Mullen

Trumpets

Niall O’Sullivan

Charles Cavanagh

Eoghan Cooke

Trombones

Ross Lyness

James Doherty

Niall Kelly

Bass Trombone

Paul Frost

Timpani

Alex Petcu

Percussion

Richard O’Donnell

Maeve O’Hara

Caitríona Frost

Brian Dungan

Harp

Dianne Marshall

Piccolo

Naoise Ó Briain

Katie Hyland

PRODUCTION TEAM

Production Manager

Rob Usher

Stage Managers

Sophie Flynn

Stephanie Ryan

Deputy Stage Manager

Anne Kyle

Technical Stage Manager

Adrian Leake

Italian Coach

Annalisa Monticelli

Audio Production

Ergodos

Audio Recording Engineer

Simon Cullen

ADDITIONAL THANKS

Photography

Shane McCarty

Ros Kavanagh

Trumpet

Darren Moore

Glen Carr

Broadcast Facilities

Streamcast

Broadcast Director

Bob Corkey

Stream Production

Seismic Events

Lighting Programmer

Eoin McNinch

Chief Electrician

Simon Burke

Stage Crew

Sean Dennehy

Grace Halton

Richard Lambert

Gus McDonagh

Davey Carpenter

Promotional Video

Mark Cantan

Gansee Films

Graphic Design

Alphabet Soup

Snare Drum

Rónán Scarlett

Kevin Corcoran

Chaperone

Gillian Oman

Children’s Chorus Assistants

Clarice Makarevitch

Tara Rice

Subtitles Operator

Conleth Stanley

Subtitles Translation

Simon Rees

Programme edited by

Michael Dervan

Ticketing

DICE

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15


BIOGRAPHIES

SERGIO ALAPONT

CONDUCTOR

SINÉAD McKENNA

PRODUCTION

& LIGHTING DESIGNER

ELAINE KELLY

ASSISTANT CONDUCTOR

& CHORUS DIRECTOR

AOIFE O’SULLIVAN

RÉPÉTITEUR

Spanish-born Sergio Alapont

is noted for his passionate and

inspirational conducting. He

divides his work evenly between

symphonic and operatic and enjoys

a successful career in concert and

in the opera house. Orchestras he has conducted

include Orquestra Sinfònica de Barcelona i Nacional

de Catalunya, Bilbao Symphony, Copenhagen

Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia,

Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, Orquesta de

València, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Orchestra

della Toscana, Orchestra I Pomeriggi Musicali,

Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI and Royal

Scottish National Orchestra. Other recent highlights

include Lehár’s The Merry Widow at Fondazione

Arena di Verona, Mozart’s Idomeneo at Opéra

national du Rhin in Strasbourg, Mascagni’s Cavalleria

rusticana at the Illica Festival, Bellini’s Norma in

Ferrara and Treviso, Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia

at Den Norske Opera in Oslo, Verdi’s Attila at Teatro

Massimo Bellini of Catania, Cagnoni’s Don Bucefalo

at Wexford Festival Opera, Rota’s Il cappello di paglia

di Firenze at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

and Wexford, Donizetti’s Poliuto at Teatro Nacional

de São Carlos of Lisbon, Martín y Soler’s Una cosa

rara at Palau de Les Arts in Valencia and Puccini’s La

rondine at Minnesota Opera. He studied in Valencia,

Madrid and Munich before continuing his training

with Donato Renzetti at the Conservatory of Music in

Pescara. He also studied with Jorma Panula, Helmuth

Rilling, Marco Armiliato, Semyon Bychkov and

Antonio Pappano. He won the Best Conductor Award

at the GBOscars in 2016 and is making his INO debut

in La bohème.

Sinéad McKenna has received two

Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for

Best Lighting Design and a Drama

Desk nomination for Outstanding

Lighting Design for a Musical. She

previously designed Offenbach’s

The Tales of Hoffman and Vivaldi’s Griselda for Irish

National Opera. Other designs for opera and music

include Mozart’s Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute and

The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Theatre Company);

Verdi’s La traviata (Malmö Opera); Britten’s The Rape

of Lucretia (Irish Youth Opera) and A Midsummer

Night’s Dream (Opera Ireland); The Wizard of Oz and

Prodijig (Cork Opera House) and Angela’s Ashes: the

Musical. Film and TV credits include Grace Jones:

Bloodlight and Bami (Blinder Films), Bovinity (Tommy

Tiernan) and Fitting In (Des Bishop), among others.

She recently designed the set and lighting for Mark

O’Rowe’s The Approach (Landmark Productions) and

has designed lighting for numerous other Landmark

productions. She has worked extensively with Druid

Theatre, the Abbey Theatre, the Gate Theatre, West

Yorkshire Playhouse, Dundee Rep, Cork Opera

House, The Everyman, Cork, Rough Magic, Cahoots,

CoisCéim Dance Theatre, Decadent Theatre, Gare St

Lazare Ireland, Lyric Theatre, Belfast, Fishamble, The

Corn Exchange, THISISPOPBABY, Siren Productions,

Second Age, The Performance Corporation, Semper

Fi and Gúna Nua.

Elaine Kelly is a multi-awardwinning

choral and orchestral

conductor based in Ireland. She

is the ABL Aviation Opera Studio

conductor for the 2019-20 season

during which she is assistant

conductor and chorus director for INO productions.

She is currently the conductor of the University of

Limerick Orchestra, and musical director to the

highly-successful choir, Cantate. She was musical

director of the Dublin Symphony Orchestra from

2017-19. In 2014 she won first prize in the inaugural

ESB Feis Ceoil Orchestral Conducting Competition.

In concert, she has conducted the RTÉ Concert

Orchestra, Cork Concert Orchestra, CSM Symphony

Orchestra, Cork Fleischmann Orchestra and

the Fleischmann Choir. She was also assistant

conductor for Opera Collective Ireland’s production

of Handel’s Agrippina with the Irish Chamber

Orchestra, in association with Northern Ireland

Opera. She is a graduate of the CIT Cork School of

Music (CSM). She completed her BMus Degree in

2011 and continued her studies in CSM, achieving a

First Class Honours Masters Degree in Conducting.

Aoife O’Sullivan was born in Dublin

and studied at the College of Music

with Frank Heneghan and later at

the RIAM with John O’Conor. She

graduated from Trinity College

Dublin with an honours degree in

music. In September 1999 she began her studies

as a Fulbright scholar at the Curtis Institute of Music

and in 2001 she joined the staff there for her final two

years. She was awarded the Geoffrey Parsons Trust

Award for accompaniment of singers in 2005. She

has worked on the music staff at Wexford Festival

Opera, and on three Handel operas for Opera Theatre

Company, Orlando, Xerxes, and Alcina, and for Opera

Ireland on Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and

Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also

worked at the National Opera Studio in London and

was on the deputy coach list for the Jette Parker

Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House

Covent Garden. She has played for masterclasses

including those given by Malcolm Martineau, Ann

Murray, Thomas Allen, Thomas Hampson and Anna

Moffo. She worked on Mozart’s Zaide at the Britten

Pears Young Artist Programme and on Britten’s

Turn of the Screw for the Cheltenham Festival with

Paul Kildea. She has appeared at the Wigmore Hall

in concerts with Ann Murray (chamber versions of

Mahler and Berg), Gweneth Ann Jeffers, Wendy Dawn

Thompson and Sinéad Campbell Wallace. She is now

based in Dublin where she works as a répétiteur and

vocal coach at TU Dublin Conservatoire and also

regularly for INO.

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BIOGRAPHIES

LUKE LALLY MAGUIRE

ASSISTANT RÉPÉTITEUR

CELINE BYRNE

SOPRANO

MIMÌ

ANNA DEVIN

SOPRANO

MUSETTA

MERŪNAS VITULSKIS

TENOR

RODOLFO

Dublin-born pianist Luke Lally

Maguire, who is a current member

of Irish National Opera’s ABL

Aviation Opera Studio, began

playing piano at the age of thirteen.

In September 2020, he graduated

with a First Class Honours in the Bachelor of Music

performance degree from TU Dublin Conservatoire

(formerly DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama)

where he studied piano under Mary Lennon. He has

also taken part in piano masterclasses and lessons

with Christopher Elton, Barry Douglas, Vanessa

Latarche, Simon Trpčeski, Leon McCawley, Hilary

Coates and Thérèse Fahy. He is an experienced

performer and a multiple prize-winner for both solo

and collaborative performance in major Irish national

competitions and festivals including Feis Ceoil and

Sligo Feis Ceoil where, in 2019, he was awarded the

€1,000 Piano Bursary sponsored by Eileen and Ray

Monahan. He is in demand as a vocal accompanist

and his keen interest in vocal performance has led

to him performing in vocal masterclasses with Orla

Boylan, Patricia Bardon and Julian Hubbard. In 2019

he acted as répétiteur and harpsichordist for TU

Dublin Conservatoire’s production of Purcell’s Dido

and Aeneas. He is passionate about piano pedagogy

and currently teaches piano in the Newpark Academy

of Music, Blackrock.

Celine Byrne, who won First Prize

and gold medal at the Maria

Callas International Grand Prix in

Athens in 2007, is an INO Artistic

Partner and made her company

debut in the title role of Puccini’s

Madama Butterfly in 2019. Recent performances

include Magda in Puccini’s La rondine (Minnesota

Opera), Madama Butterfly (Staatstheater Kassel), Die

Marschallin in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (Santiago),

Marietta/Marie in Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (RTÉ

NSO), Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Israeli

Opera), the title role in Puccini’s Tosca (Mikhailovsky

Opera, St Petersburg), Liù in Puccini’s Turandot (Oper

Leipzig and Deutsche Oper am Rhein), Elisabeth in

Verdi’s Don Carlo (Deutsche Oper am Rhein) and

Mimì in La bohéme (Hamburg State Opera). She

made her operatic debut as Mimì with Scottish Opera

in 2010. She made her debut at the Royal Opera

House, Covent Garden, in Dvořák’s Rusalka in 2012,

taking over the role at short notice. She returned to

sing First Flower Maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal followed

by Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen and was due to perform

Liù in Turandot. Engagements lost due to the Covid-19

pandemic include her debut at the Opéra national

de Paris, Mimì in La bohème) with Opera Hong Kong

and concert appearances in Bangkok with Marcello

Alvarez and several concerts with José Carreras, with

whom she performs regularly. Future engagements

include Liù in Turandot (Oper im Steinbruch at St

Margarethen), Madama Butterfly (Bregenz Festival)

and Micaëla in Carmen (INO).

Irish soprano Anna Devin is widely

admired for her “impeccable

Baroque style” (Bachtrack), “vocal

control...artistry and musicodramatic

intelligence” (Opera

News) and as “an ideal interpreter

of Handel’s ‘sex-kitten’ roles” (Opera magazine).

The 2019-20 season saw her perform Almirena in

Handel’s Rinaldo with Glyndebourne on Tour and

Michal in Handel’s Saul in the Théâtre du Châtelet

in Paris. She also sang Handel’s Gloria with the

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and returned to

Zurich Opera House for a gala concert of works by

Zelenka with La Scintilla and Riccardo Minasi. House

debuts in 2017-18 included Madrid’s Teatro Real (as

Celia in Mozart’s Lucio Silla) and Händel-Festspiele

Karlsruhe (in the title role of Handel’s Semele ). She

has also sung at the Royal Opera House, Covent

Garden, La Scala, Milan, Welsh National Opera,

Scottish Opera, Opera Collective Ireland, the Handel

Festival in Göttingen, Early Opera Company and

Mozartwoche Salzburg. Her appearance as Clotilde

in Handel’s Faramondo for Brisbane Baroque earned

her the Best Supporting Singer in an Opera at the

2015 Helpmann Awards, Australia. Orchestras she

has worked with include the Vienna Philharmonic,

Hallé, RTÉ NSO, Ulster and Minnesota orchestras

and Houston, Charlotte and Seattle symphonies. She

has given masterclasses at the Royal Irish Academy

of Music and coached at the Royal Academy Opera

Course, London. In addition to her work on stage, she

is an Ambassador for the British Dyslexia Association.

She made her INO debut in 2019 as Pamina in

Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

Merūnas Vitulskis is considered

one of the most charismatic and

versatile Lithuanian singers of his

generation. Recent and upcoming

engagements include Pinkerton

in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

(Lithuanian National Opera, Staatstheater Kassel,

Opera North, Opéra de Lille, Ópera de Oviedo),

Alfredo in Verdi’s La travaita (Lithuanian National

Opera, Teatro di San Carlo, Naples), Rodolfo in

Puccini’s La bohème, Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene

Onegin (Lithuanian National Opera), and Cavaradossi

in Puccini’s Tosca (Vilnius City Opera). He has also

appeared with ABAO Bilbao Opera, St Margarethen

Summer Festival and Teatro Verdi, Trieste, as

Alfredo; Theater Klagenfurt as Macduff in Verdi’s

Macbeth; and Oper Graz and Aalto Theater Essen

as Rodolfo. He graduated from Kaunas Vaizganto

high school where he had already begun to sing in

the seventh grade, encouraged by music teacher

Giedre Druskienės. He developed his musical skills

at Gruodis Conservatory (2004-6) and continued

his studies and graduated at the Music Academy

with the vocal teacher Ohn Antanavicius. He has

had great success in singing competitions, winning

the first prize at the Stasys Baras Competition for

Singers (2009), a diploma at the 19th international

Societa Umanitaria Competition in Milan and the

first prize at the Zenonas Paulauskas Competition for

Young Singers. He sang his many of his major roles

for the first time at the Lithuanian National Opera,

where he worked as soloist from 2010, and he made

his international operatic debut as Sir Hervey in

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at St Moritz in Switzerland.

He makes his INO debut in La bohème.

18

19


BIOGRAPHIES

DAVID BIZIC

BARITONE

MARCELLO

BEN McATEER

BARITONE

SCHAUNARD

JOHN MOLLOY

BASS

COLLINE

EDDIE WADE

BARITONE

BENOÎT, ALCINDORO

Serbian baritone David Bizic

studied at the opera studio of Israeli

Opera and won second prize at the

prestigious 2007 Plácido Domingo

Operalia Competition. He made his

debut at the Metropolitan Opera

in New York in 2014, singing Albert in Massenet’s

Werther alongside Jonas Kaufmann and Sophie Koch,

and reprised the role the following season. He also

returned to New York as Marcello in Puccini’s La

bohème, to Toulon as Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir

d’amore, sang Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen in Dijon

and made his Italian debut in the same role at the

Macareta Festival. He has also sung Sharpless in

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in New York, the title role

in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in Metz and Reims,

Enrico in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in Toulon,

Lescaut in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut in Barcelona

and Escamillo in Carmen in Tel-Aviv. Praised for his

interpretation of Mozart, he has sung the title role

in Le nozze di Figaro (Angers, Nantes, Strasbourg,

Toulon, Monte-Carlo, Bordeaux, Geneva, Gent),

Publio in La clemenza di Tito (Avignon, Strasbourg,

Montpellier), Masetto in Don Giovanni (Paris, Aixen-Provence

Festival, Madrid), Leporello in Don

Giovanni (Toulouse, Rennes, Montpellier, Moscow,

Berlin, Valencia, Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago, Vienna),

the title role in Don Giovanni (Maribor, Rouen) and Il

Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro (Saint-Étienne).

Concert appearances include Fauré’s Requiem,

Schubert’s Mass in A-flat, Haydn’s Nelson Mass,

Falla’s La vida breve, Beethoven’s Choral Symphony,

and Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem. He makes his

INO debut in La bohème.

Northern Irish baritone Ben

McAteer trained at the National

Opera Studio, London, and on the

Guildhall School of Music & Drama

opera course. Before embarking

on a musical career, he studied

chemistry at the University of St Andrews. Recent

operatic highlights include Eisenstein in Johann

Strauss’s Die Fledermaus and Marullo in Verdi’s

Rigoletto for Northern Ireland Opera, Marcello in

Puccini’s La bohème for Lyric Opera Productions,

Fritz/Pierrot in a concert performance of Korngold’s

Die tote Stadt for the RTÉ NSO, Earl of Mountararat

in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe at English National

Opera, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage

of Figaro and Father in Humperdinck’s Hansel

and Gretel for INO, Father in Hansel and Gretel for

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Pangloss & Voltaire

in Bernstein’s Candide for West Green Opera and

the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, and Grand Inquisitor

in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Gondoliers for Scottish

Opera. For Scottish Opera he also created the role of

James in Stuart MacRae’s The Devil Inside, for which

he won Outstanding Performance in an Opera at the

My Theatre Awards in Toronto. He also sang the title

role in Le nozze di Figaro and toured as Guglielmo

in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte and Pish-Tush in Gilbert &

Sullivan’s The Mikado. Notable concert performances

include the world première of Mark-Anthony

Turnage’s At Sixes and Sevens with the London

Symphony Orchestra, Orff’s Carmina Burana at the

Barbican, and performances of Vaughan Williams’

Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Copland’s Old

American Songs with the Ulster Orchestra.

John Molloy is one of Ireland’s

leading basses and hails from Birr.

He studied at the DIT Conservatory

of Music and Drama, the Royal

Northern College of Music in

Manchester and the National

Opera Studio in London. He made his Irish National

Opera debut in 2018 as Antonio in Mozart’s The

Marriage of Figaro. Roles he has undertaken for Opera

Theatre Company include Sparafucile in Verdi’s

Rigoletto, Trinity Moses in Weill’s Mahagonny, the

title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Zuniga

in Bizet’s Carmen and he also appeared in Stephen

Deazley’s children’s opera BUG OFF!!! Other roles

include Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Scottish

Opera), Guccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (Royal

Opera House, London), Masetto in Mozart’s Don

Giovanni (English National Opera), Arthur in Peter

Maxwell Davies’s The Lighthouse and Figaro in

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Nationale Reisopera,

Netherlands), Le Commandeur in Thomas’s La cour

de Célimène (Wexford Festival Opera), Angelotti in

Puccini’s Tosca, Luka in Walton’s The Bear, Banco in

Verdi’s Macbeth and Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir

d’amore (OTC and NI Opera), Raimondo in Donizetti’s

Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Holland Park), Leporello

in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Sarastro in Mozart’s Die

Zauberflöte, Bonze in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly

(Lyric Opera Productions), Snug in Britten’s A

Midsummer Nights Dream (Opera Ireland) and Henry

Kissinger in John Adams’s Nixon in China (Wide Open

Opera). Concert repertoire he has sung internationally

includes Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, Verdi’s

Requiem, Mendelssohn’s St Paul, Haydn’s Creation,

Handel’s Messiah and Stravinsky’s Renard.

British baritone Eddie Wade

studied in London at the Guildhall

School of Music and Drama, and

the National Opera Studio. He was

awarded both First Prize and the

Verdi/Wagner Prize at the National

Mozart Competition in 1996, and in the same season

made his Royal OperaHouse debut as the Mandarin in

Puccini’s Turandot. His many varied roles with leading

companies include Peter in Humperdinck’s Hänsel

und Gretel, Baron Douphol in Verdi’s La traviata,

Fouquier-Tinville in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier and

Julio in Thomas Ades’s The Exterminating Angel

(Royal Opera House); Sharpless in Puccini’s Madama

Butterfly (Danish National Opera); Prince Arjuna in

Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, Mereia/Lepidus in Detlev

Glanert’s Caligula (EnglishNational Opera); Peter in

Hänsel und Gretel, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly,

Melot in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Marcello in

Puccini’s La bohème, Baron Douphol in La traviata,

Sprecher in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Conte Almaviva

in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Stárek in Janáček’s

Jenůfa (Welsh National Opera); Sharpless in Madama

Butterfly, the title role in Verdi’s Rigoletto, and the

Executioner in James MacMillan’s Inés de Castro

(Scottish Opera); Duclou in Leoncavallo’s Zazà (Opera

Holland Park); Sonora in Puccini’s La fanciulla del

West and Donald in Britten’s Billy Budd (Opera North);

Baron Douphol in La traviata (Glyndebourne Festival

Opera and Glyndebourne on Tour). Conductors he

has worked with include Charles Mackerras, Mark

Elder, Antonio Pappano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Maurizio

Benini, Carlo Rizzi, Philippe Auguin, Andris Nelsons,

Jakub Hrůša and Mark Wigglesworth. He makes his

INO debut in La bohème.

20

21


BIOGRAPHIES

FEARGHAL CURTIS

TENOR

PARPIGNOL

DAVID HOWES

BASS-BARITONE

DOGANIERE

RORY DUNNE

BASS-BARITONE

SERGENTE

IRISH NATIONAL OPERA

ORCHESTRA

Fearghal is from Dublin and is a

graduate of the DIT Conservatory of

Music and Drama, Dublin, and the

Royal Academy of Music, London.

In 2018 he created the role of

Stephen Dedalus in Eric Sweeney’s

Ulysses (Bloomsday Festival) and in 2017 sang the

role of Taoiseach in the first modern performance of

Robert O’Dwyer’s Eithne (Opera Theatre Company).

He has sung in a number of INO productions,

including Mozart’s The Magic Flute (First Armed Man/

chorus), Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (ensemble), Verdi’s

Aida (chorus), Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann

(Spalanzani/chorus), and also in the chorus of the

award-winning production of Donnacha Dennehy

and Enda Walsh’s The Second Violinist (Landmark

Productions/Wide Open Opera). He has also sung

Box in Sullivan’s Cox and Box and the title role in

Rameau’s Pygmalion (Opera in the Open), Prologue/

Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Orpheus/

Mercury in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld

(DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama), and Apollo/

Spirit/Pastore/Ensemble in Monteverdi’s Orfeo

(OTC), while he was an OTC Associate Young Artist

in 2012-13. In concert he has also performed

works by Handel, Bach, Marc-Antoine Charpentier,

Mendelssohn, Schumann, Monteverdi and Barber.

David Howes is a bass-baritone

from Limerick where he studied

with Olive Cowpar. He completed

his BMus at the DIT Conservatory of

Music and Drama and now studies

with Robert Dean in London. He

is a current member of Irish National Opera’s ABL

Aviation Opera Studio and was a member of the

inaugural Wexford Factory at last year’s Wexford

Festival Opera, and also of the Northern Ireland

Opera Studio. He created the roles of Jack and

Flynn in Andrew Synnott’s Dubliners (Opera Theatre

Company/Wexford Festival Opera), and has performed

the title roles in Verdi’s Falstaff (Wexford Factory),

Hans Krása’s Brundibár (Killaloe Chamber Music

Festival), and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (ZêzereArts

Festival, Portugal). Other roles include Count Ceprano

in Verdi’s Rigoletto (OTC), Buff in Mozart’s The Opera

Director (Irish National Opera), Prince Yamadori in

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Marchese d’Obigny

in Verdi’s La traviata (Lyric Opera Productions),

Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca (Wexford Festival Opera

ShortWorks), Noye in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, Father

Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and

Quince in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In August he will perform Badger and Parson in

Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at Longborough

Festival Opera. In recital he has performed at Kilkenny

Arts Festival and the National Concert Hall, and

oratorio performances include Verdi’s Requiem and

Beethoven’s Choral Symphony (Co-Orch Dublin),

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria,

Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah, and Requiems

by Saint-Saëns and Brahms (Dún Laoghaire Choral

Society).

Dublin-based bass-baritone Rory

Dunne first trained as an actor

in the Bull Alley Theatre Training

Company Dublin, before going on

to the TU Dublin Conservatoire,

where he received a First Class

Honours BMus degree. In recent years he has been

a member of Irish National Opera’s ABL Aviation

Opera Studio, the Wexford Factory (Wexford Festival

Opera’s professional development academy), and has

been engaged as a company artist with Cork Opera

House. He has recently won both a 2021 Blackwater

Valley Opera Festival Bursary Award, and a 2020 PwC

Ireland and Wexford Festival Opera Emerging Young

Artist bursary. He also won Navan Choral Festival’s

Young Opera Voice Competition in 2019, as well as

competitions in Feis Ceoil, Sligo Feis Ceoil, Northern

Ireland Opera’s Glenarm Festival of Voice and several

internal competitions in TU Dublin, including the

Conservatoire’s Gold Medal. His roles include the

title role in Verdi’s Falstaff (Wexford Factory/RTÉ),

Valentine Greatrakes in Raymond Deane’s Vagabones

(Opera Collective Ireland), Colline in Puccini’s La

bohème (Lyric Opera Productions) and The Mikado

in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado (Cork Opera

House), and covering Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen

and Father in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (Irish

National Opera). He makes his INO stage debut as the

Sergeant in La bohème.

The Irish National Opera orchestra is made up

of leading freelance musicians based in Ireland.

Members of the orchestra have a broad range of

experience playing operatic, symphonic, chamber

and new music repertoire. The orchestra plays for

contemporary opera productions – Thomas Adès’s

Powder Her Face and Brian Irvine’s Least Like The

Other – as well as chamber reductions of larger

scores – Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann and

Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. The orchestra

appeared in its largest formation to date in INO’s 2019

production of Rossini’s Cinderella/La Cenerentola at the

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin. The orchestra has

performed in 17 venues throughout Ireland.

22

23


ALL ABOUT MIMÌ AND ME

Celine Byrne tells Michael Dervan about a great love-affair

Avi Klemberg as Rodolfo and Celine Byrne as Mimì

in Scottish Opera’s 2010 production.

Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

HOW DO YOU RELATE TO THE

CHARACTER MIMÌ?

Before I answer that, I have to tell you that my

love-affair with La bohème has been a big part of

my life. It was my debut in 2010. It was also the

last thing that I did before the lockdown, I sang it in

Hamburg with Stephen Costello, and then I went to

do it in America. Then, when I came back to Ireland

for rehearsals for Irish National Opera’s Carmen,

there was the lockdown. So it was the last thing I

performed on stage and it’s now going to be my

first time back with a live orchestra, conductor and

singers since the lockdown. So I’m very excited.

And it was the first and only opera that my father

came to see, as well. He got so emotionally involved

in it he couldn’t separate the character from me,

and when I died on stage he swore to God that he’d

never come to another opera again.

Mimì is two characters in Henri Murger’s book,

Scènes de la vie de bohème. Francine and Mimì

become one character in the libretto for the opera.

I identify a lot with her, and not always the way that

directors would like me to. When she meets Rodolfo

a lot of directors want to play that old-fashioned

and coy. Like she’s very shy. And actually she’s not.

She’s very... I won’t say calculated, but she knows

what she’s doing. She’s forward. She has a little bit

of a cheeky side that I don’t think we see enough of

in many productions. I identify with her with regard

to the fact that she’s playful. I’m very playful and

very childish. I think you’ve observed some of the

rehearsals that I’ve been in, and you can see that I’m

always trying to have a bit of fun. I just love the fact

that Rodolfo is a poet. And yet when she speaks,

she’s more poetic than he is, even though he’s the

poet. I love her poetry. I have the gift of the gab,

and when I talk I can talk for hours and hours and

go on and on, and I feel Mimì is like that as well.

I think she’s sweet, and she’s innocent, but not in

a sense that she’s naive. I think she’s innocent as

in she has an open heart. Everything that she feels

she wears on her sleeve. And I’m like that.

HOW DO YOU RELATE TO HER ACTUAL

SITUATION IN THE OPERA?

Well, I relate to that being an actress and I

have to act that part. Because, obviously I’m

not dying of tuberculosis, I’ve no underlying

sinister disease. That’s where my acting comes

in. That’s my job, to portray that character. I

identify with her personality, but there’s nothing

else I can relate to in her position in life.

DO YOU RELATE TO HER RELATIONSHIP?

Yes. I can with how she falls in love so quickly. I

can see how that can happen. Love at first sight.

It’s a chemical reaction. It’s the endorphins

being released when she sees him. She’s excited

at him. Because she’s so open, I can see how she

would fall in love so easily. Then, because she’s

so reactive in her emotion, when he shows that

he’s jealous, I can see how it doesn’t work out,

either. It’s a very short relationship. There’s only

three months between the time they get together

and the time they break up.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME

YOU HEARD ANY OF HER ARIAS?

Yes. I started singing late in life as everybody

knows. I had my first singing lesson at 18 and I

went to college when I was 23. The first music

I was introduced to was Puccini, because my

voice was a little bit more mature, because

of my age and where it was colour-wise. I

remember listening to Sì, mi chiamano Mimì

for the first time and thinking, I can’t learn this

aria, it’s too long. [She laughs] I’d only started

singing. I didn’t know the language. I’d lived in

Italy for a year, so I only had very basic Italian.

So I thought, O my God, this aria is so long. But

I always wanted to sing it, because I heard so

many people sing it, it’s so popular.

Everybody kept saying to me when I was in

college, Oh, Celine, you are going to be a great

Mimì and a great Countess, they were telling

me all these roles, and I was, like, Oh, thank

you, thank you. And then I was going home,

researching – what are these roles, who are

these people. I listened to a lot of recordings

of La bohème, and I fell in love, I have to say,

with the recording of Jussi Björling and Victoria

de los Angeles. I just think that she was so

wonderful in the drama. I think Maria Callas is a

wonderful interpreter of music. She’s amazing.

That’s why I fell in love with Maria Callas, she’s

there on my wall – she points to a poster – but

she never sang Mimì on stage.

You can hear in a way with Victoria de los Angeles

the effect of her being on that stage doing this

25


Avi Klemberg as Rodolfo and

Celine Byrne as Mimì in Scottish

Opera’s 2010 production.

Photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

role so many times, like when she was singing –

Celine sings Mimì asking Sono andati? (Have they

gone?) as she’s left alone with Rodolfo in Act IV –

I was feeling every breath and feeling every sigh

in the music with her, without getting too much.

I’m not one of these singers who go on about

the nuances of the music and the wonderful

orchestration and all that. I’m more of a realist.

I live in the real world. I like to talk about music

in a real way that people can communicate with

me on the same level. The majority of people

who come to see us are not musicians. They just

want to see an opera. It was just the feeling of it.

You feel the music. And she sang it in a way that

really touched me.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD

THE OPERA LIVE IN THE OPERA HOUSE?

I saw it for the first time in Covent Garden,

when I was there covering the role of Donna

Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and I sat in for a

rehearsal. The boys impressed me. I saw these

four boys come together. Obviously they’re hired

in to sing and to act the roles of friends. But they

really looked like they were friends. I was so

convinced by this story. I just thought, I want to

be part of that gang. It was the old production,

which is now gone. [She’s talking about John

Copley’s production, which was first seen in

1974 and last seen in July 2015].

WHAT WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU

PERFORMED THE ROLE YOURSELF?

In 2010 with Scottish Opera. That was my stage

debut, my first job ever. It was the first opera

in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre [or the Grand

Canal Theatre, as it was called back then] and

I’ve sung in the Bord Gáis every season since.

I’m the only singer who’s sung in the Bord Gáis

every season since it opened.

That was a wonderful experience with Scottish

Opera. It was during the ash cloud as well – the

ash cloud created by the eruption of the Icelandic

volcano Eyjafjallajökull in March 2010 which

caused huge disruption to air travel. That was a

crazy time, I remember, because I nearly missed

the last performance in Inverness because I’d

gone home during a break in the run. It took me

13 hours to get back, because I had to go by boat

from Belfast to Stranraer, and then try and get all

the way to Inverness, up in the Scottish highlands.

WHAT WAS THE JOURNEY LIKE,

COMING TO YOUR FIRST OPERA ROLE?

It was amazing. I thought, wow, I have a job. It

was my first professional job and I thought it was

a huge role to get. I felt very privileged. And I

still feel very privileged when the phone rings or

when I get an e-mail about a job offer. I was so

delighted. I was nervous, because the conductor,

Francesco Corti, was Italian and I thought, Oh

no! I’ll say a word wrong and he’s going to kill me.

[She laughs] It was a most wonderful experience.

I didn’t know what to expect, so I was just myself.

THAT PRODUCTION WAS RESET IN

20TH-CENTURY AMERICA, NO?

I don’t know where it was set. There was no

specific place. The guy who directed it was

a Tony Award-winner and it was a modern

production, so there were no candles, there was

electric cable. Look, I’m there to work. I’m there

to do my job. So I just did what I was told by the

director, because that’s his job. And I did my

job. That’s the way I approached everything.

HOW DIFFERENT HAVE YOUR MIMÌS

BEEN IN DIFFERENT PRODUCTIONS?

Very. The best one to date was Hamburg.

A, because of the prestige of the house, it is

so prestigious to sing there. B, because the

production was just so beautiful. The set was

one big house divided into different rooms, and

then that house went up and down, so the first

level then became the ground level. It was just

very beautiful and very simple. And of course

the singers around me were great. I just loved

that it was traditional, in a way.

Then of course I rehearsed the John Copley,

which was very traditional as well, but I would

say it was a little bit old-fashioned. Even though

I thought it was presented so beautifully, it was

more like presenting art than presenting a real

person.

The very first one I did, of course, it wasn’t

traditional. But I enjoyed singing it. You can’t

deny the music, no matter what production

you’re in. You can’t deny the sumptuous music.

Puccini loved the soprano voice, and I had the

privilege to be the soprano in that production.

I did another modern production, in Russia, in

Moscow, the Novaya Opera. I enjoyed that as

well, but that had a Doppelgänger, and I didn’t

like that. Whatever about having a memory and

looking back in the First Act or the Second Act

or the Third Act, where you remember breaking

up with Rodolfo, you remember meeting him,

that’s OK. But it did not work, and I had to fight

with my own soul, in a way, in the Fourth Act.

Because you can’t really be a Doppelgänger

and stand by and sing this touching Fourth Act

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27


Johannes Leiacker’s set for Hamburg

Staatsoper’s production of La bohème,

directed by Guy Joosten and with

costumes by Jorge Jara.

while somebody else is acting it. You can’t. It

has to be one. Because the connection with how

you’re feeling has to be portrayed. And having a

Doppelgänger, I was singing it and quasi feeling

it, reminiscing. But I still did it, because it’s my

job, and I gave it 100 percent, and people liked it,

and that’s all that matters in the end.

YOUR WORK GETS FILTERED NOT JUST

THROUGH DIRECTORS’ IDEAS BUT ALSO

THROUGH A CONDUCTOR’S APPROACH.

HAVE CONDUCTORS TAKEN VERY

DIFFERENT MUSICAL APPROACHES?

Yeah, I have to say. In Hamburg Pier Giorgio

Morandi was fantastic. He knew the opera

inside out and he was breathing with the singer,

the orchestra was breathing with the singer.

There was time taken where you needed time.

There was a wonderful flow, so you could

actually express the emotion where you needed

to. It was beautiful. Really beautiful.

YOU’VE MENTIONED VICTORIA DE LOS

ANGELES ALREADY. ARE THERE ANY

OTHER MIMÌS THAT REALLY MATTER

TO YOU IN THE SAME WAY?

I can’t say. I only have a number one. I don’t

have a number two or number three.

CAN WE PLAY FANTASY OPERA FOR

A MOMENT? IF YOU COULD SPLIT

YOURSELF UP INTO MULTIPLE

PEOPLE, EACH OF THEM WITH ALL

THE REQUISITE SKILLS, AND NOT JUST

SING IN LA BOHÈME, BUT CONDUCT,

DIRECT IT AND DESIGN IT, WHAT MIGHT

IT LOOK LIKE AND SOUND LIKE?

Well, you see, I’m a traditionalist. I know it’s

wonderful to bring music into the modern day

and everything. But we have modern opera for

that. I think it’s wonderful to have a balance

between romantic music, classical music and

I’ve seen some of the Mozart operas being

reinvented, like Kasper Holten did a wonderful

Don Giovanni, which I was proud to be part of.

I think when you touch on Puccini ...maybe it’s

because I’m so in love and so connected to the

body of work. He wrote I think eleven operas and

I’ve sung nine. I just think that if I was to conduct

it... I’m going to be biased now and I’m going to

say that the conductor who’s conducting this

one is going to be the best, because he’s a Puccini

expert, Sergio Alapont. Or Royal Opera House

music director Antonio Pappano. The production

would be traditional. The setting wouldn’t change.

The music is amazing, but we have to be true to

the libretto. There’s no point talking about a candle

and then trying to bring it into the modern day.

It doesn’t work. So it has to fit with the libretto.

Just don’t touch it. Don’t mess with it.

ANY SPECIFIC THINGS YOU WISH

PEOPLE WOULDN’T DO?

I wish tenors would sing the Act I aria in C rather

than D flat, because the lower key is the one

that Puccini originally wrote it in. Like, what

are they trying to prove? I also think at the end,

the Sono andati?, there’s a lot of repeated bits

that need time. Specifically, there’s one part

where she says, “My name is Mimì” and she

repeats it twice, she sings it up the octave and

then she drops it down the octave. I think it has

only happened on a few occasions where I have

won the battle and I’ve got to sing it my way.

Because normally you’ve got to sing what the

conductor wants. It’s so important when she’s

singing up the octave that she’s singing, saying,

Oh I remember I said this, and then she’s sick,

she’s dying, so she takes a moment, she gives

it all her energy, and then it kind of hits her that

she’s ill again, and he needs that moment, and

wants to say it again. She needs a moment, and

then she drops down the octave. It’s quite clear

in the music to me, that the reason she says it

twice and an octave apart is because she loses

the energy to finish what she’s saying. And then

she tries to compose herself and start again.

It’s important because it’s heartbreaking.

There are so many moments that you can really

captivate an audience with, without dragging

the music and making her die forever. She

doesn’t have to die forever. I’m not saying slow

the music down. But there are parts where

if you play them the right way you can really

captivate an audience, because you really do

feel it if you give the music time.

That time has to be given. It’s not only about

the director directing in a certain way, or how

it looks aesthetically with regard to the set,

or how it sounds in relation to the sonorous

sound of the orchestra, or how it’s shaped by

the conductor. It’s also about the expression

of the artist. About how I want to express

my Mimì, within the framework of what the

conductor wants me to portray in relation to the

characterisation as depicted by the director

and within the framework of how it looks

because of the set.

28

29


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Cellissimo –

Music for the Senses

First edition of Galway’s International Cello Triennale

25 – 31 MARCH 2021

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Seven days of all things cello and Galway

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CELLO – and Music for the Senses,

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Rediscover the cello at cellissimo.ie

ABL AVIATION OPERA STUDIO

ABL AVIATION OPERA

STUDIO ARTISTS

2020 – 2021

Rachel Goode

Soprano

Kelli-Ann Masterson

Soprano

Aebh Kelly

Mezzo-soprano

David Howes

Bass-baritone

Elaine Kelly

Conductor

Amanda Feery

Composer

Davey Kelleher

Director

Luke Lally Maguire

Répétiteur

ABL Aviation, the international aviation investment company,

took title sponsorship of INO Studio, Irish National Opera’s

mentoring programme, in September 2019, as part of a multiannual

agreement. The programme is now the ABL Aviation

Opera Studio.

Members of ABL Aviation Opera Studio are involved in all

of Irish National Opera’s productions, large and small. They

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– enabling them to watch and emulate great artists at work –

and, for non-singing members, they join in the world of opera

rehearsals as assistants.

Studio members also receive individual coaching, attend

masterclasses and receive mentorship from leading Irish and

international singers and musicians. Brenda Hurley, Head of

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consultant.

Other areas of specific attention are performance and

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personal musical development and given professional career

guidance. They benefit from Irish National Opera’s national

and international contacts and ABL Aviation Opera Studio

also develops and promotes specially tailored events to help

the members hone specific skills and showcase their work.

For information contact Studio & Outreach Producer

James Bingham at james@irishnationalopera.ie

31


THE FIRST IRISH MIMÌ?

Michael Dervan puzzles over who might claim to have been the first Irish singer to take on the role of Mimì.

Cecile Lorraine photographed by

Grouzelle Studios Sydney in 1901

in connection with Musgrove Grand

Opera Company performances of

either Gounod’s Faust or Verdi’s

La forza del destino in Australia.

The inscription reads, “À Monsieur

Thompson avec mes meilleurs vœux

et remerciements pour sa gentillesse,

Bien à vous, Cécile Lorraine, 1901.”

Gerald Marr Thompson was drama,

music and art critic of the Sydney

Morning Herald.

Who was the first Irish Mimì? Was it the great Margaret Burke-

Sheridan, who sang the role at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome

in February 1918? Indisputably yes, if your perspective is

performances on major European stages. At home in Ireland

Veronica Keary performed the role for the Dublin Operatic

Society in 1934 and she was followed in 1938 by May Devitt,

who would also give a string of performances for the Dublin

Grand Opera Society in the 1940s.

But there may be a case for a different singer, for Cecile Lorraine,

the soprano who sang Mimì for the Carl Rosa Opera Company, the

company which gave the first English performance in Manchester

in April 1897, and the first Irish performance the following August.

Dublin actually heard the work before the British capital. The work

was not heard in London until the following October.

Cecile Lorraine was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1868 or

1869 and died in Hollywood, California, in 1941. In late 19thcentury

newspapers she is described as having been born to

English parents, to have trained in Europe, most notably under

Mathilde Marchesi in Paris; and her career also took her beyond

Europe and the US to Australia and New Zealand. She seems

to have gravitated away from opera and towards the world of

musical comedy, and obituaries describe her as a voice teacher.

So, is there any Irish connection apart from her being the

first singer ever to perform Mimì in Ireland. Well, maybe. Neil

Gould’s book about the Dublin-born composer, conductor and

cellist Victor Herbert (Victor Herbert, A Theatrical Life), has

some information about an occasion when Cecile Lorraine

and Victor Herbert worked together. In 1938 the singer wrote

about it to the composer’s daughter.

Dear Miss Herbert:

In the year 1899 I sang two concerts with the

Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra, your father the

conductor. When I arrived for rehearsal... I was

given a seat on the stage and when the orchestral

number was terminated your father came over to

bid me welcome and repeated, “Lorraine–Lorraine–

French?” “No,” I replied, “Irish!” Whereupon he gave

me a good hearty handshake, and told me I was

thrice welcome.”

How did it come about that someone born in Boston to

“English” parents would describe herself as Irish? The clue

may be in the surnames of her parents. Her father was a

Reilly, her mother a Hathaway. If indeed her father was Irish

that connection would today make her Irish enough to don

the jersey and play international football for Ireland. And that

would surely also make her the first Irish soprano ever to sing

the role of Mimì.

Her singing of the role at the Gaiety Theatre in 1897 was

warmly praised by Irish music critics. The response to

Puccini’s music was more divided. Here some excerpts from

the reviews of the Carl Rosa production that were printed

the morning after the first night in The Freeman’s Journal

(relatively sympathetic to Puccini) and the Irish Independent

(decidedly against the composer and the work).

32

33


Freeman’s Journal

26 August 1897

THE CARL ROSA OPERAS

“LA BOHEME.”

Last night the new opera of “La Boheme,” by Puccini, was

performed for the first time at the Gaiety Theatre by the Carl Rosa

Company. The House was crowded in every part, only standing

room being available to those who had not secured seats or who

came late. A sketch of the opera has already been given, the

“Bohemians” being four reckless, adventurous youths and two

fair but frail girls; and whilst from the characters and situations

no one would expect any very profound or, indeed, impassioned

music – though, indeed there are some tender love passages – on

the other hand the work is very interesting because it is intensely

modern in style and manner if not exactly of an original type.

There is no overture but merely two or three bars of introduction,

and then music and singers dash in media res, and Rudolph and

Marcel are seen in their garret burning with enthusiasm for their

respective arts of poetry and painting and shivering with physical

cold. Throughout the scene, during their dialogue and after they

are joined by their friends and the fainting Mimi, the musical

treatment is in that style of melodious recitative or declamation,

changeful and fitful, which distinguishes the modern operatic

manner from the old-fashioned arias of prolonged and complete

form. The orchestration is altogether to match, highly seasoned

with kaleidoscopic changes and harmonious discords, and

occasionally developing progression that would make the hair of

the musical formalists of ancient date stand on end. But one good

feature about the orchestration is that though it is thus highly

coloured and seasoned is is never obstreperous, nor does it at

any time drown the voices ...Mdlle Cecile Lorraine gave an artistic

representation of the part of Mimi. The pathetic character of the

role found in her a good exponent, and the vocal music of the part

was rendered with tact and tenderness...

Irish Independent

26 August 1897

THE CARL ROSA OPERA CO.

“LA BOHEME.”

...The Carl Rosa Company has introduced us to so many sterling

works that when they hold forth promises of any new production

we look naturally for an opera that is well worth hearing. But if the

traditions of the company are to be maintained in this respect

we are inclined to think that they had better leave such works

as “La Boheme” severely alone so far as their Dublin season

is concerned. The audience last night listened patiently to the

performance, and quite recognised whatever merit it possessed.

But it were a hard task to conceive a colder welcome to a new

work than the audience last night gave Puccini’s masterpiece.

Indeed although the curtain was rung up again at the conclusion

of more than one act, the audience remained almost cruelly

impassive, and one knew not whether to interpret their deep

silence as an indication of emotions that were far too joyous and

too deep for utterance, or of disappointment such as paralyses all

one’s energies. The fact is that Puccini’s work is not as clever as

it has been said to be... Miss Cecile Lorraine, a promising young

artist, with a very sweet and pleasant voice, made her debut

last night in the character of Mimi. She sang and acted ably:

but we could have wished to hear her in a part that gave more

opportunity for the display of her fine voice...

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