OCI’s critically acclaimed production of Handel’s first operatic masterpiece AGRIPPINA featured a stellar cast of young Irish singers at the early stages of their careers, many of whom have since appeared on some of the finest opera stages in the world including La Scala Milan, the Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Maggio Musicale Florence, Opera North, Scottish Opera and the Oper Frankfurt.
AGRIPPINA was presented in association with NI Opera, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Lime Tree Theatre Limerick. The award winning production was directed by Oliver Mears (Artistic Director NI Opera/Director of Opera designate at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden), designed by Annemarie Woods and conducted by Jonathan Cohen (Associate Conductor of Les Arts Florissants/Artistic Director Orchestra Arcangelo).
Recipient of ‘Best Production’ Award – Tiger Dublin Fringe 2015
What the press said:
“… all round perfection that was wonderous…”
“The superb ICO tackled its role with relish under conductor Jonathan Cohen. From this well of lyricism sprung the free flowing river of superlative singing that was at the heart of the opera.”
THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST September 2015
“…gorgeously directed, superbly performed… IYO’s AGRIPPINA shows an embarrassment of talent all at the top of its game.”
THE IRISH EXAMINER***** September 2015
“A zippy, intelligent AGRIPPINA and an excellent advertisement for the many fine young singers emerging from the island of Ireland at present.”
OPERA November 2015
“… an evening to remember.”
THE IRISH TIMES***** September 2015
“… with no weak links on- or off-stage, the momentum and focus of story-telling never slackens, making this easily one of the most irresistible opera productions seen in Ireland in recent years..”
GOLDEN PLEC September 2015
Jonathan Cohen is one of Britain’s finest young musicians. He has forged a remarkable career with notable success as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. He is well known for his passion and commitment to chamber music which he expands to diverse activities such as baroque opera and the classical symphonic repertoire. He is Associate Conductor of Les Arts Florissants and his recent conducting highlights include Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kammerakademie Potsdam and performances of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie at Glyndebourne Festival. With his Orchestra Arcangelo, he was awarded the 2012 Gramophone Recital Award accompanying Iestyn Davies. Arcangelo continue to tour extensively.×
Oliver read English and History at Oxford, and began his career assisting playwright Howard Barker, before going on to work at the Kings Head, Islington (directing productions of Judith, Creditors and The Lesson), and in opera, working on productions in London (ENO, ROH), Leeds, Milan, Copenhagen, Tokyo, and Basel.
As Artistic Director of Second Movement Opera, Oliver directed many site-specific opera productions in London, including works by Mozart, Bernstein, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich/ Fleischmann, Barber, the world premiere of Stefan Weisman’s opera Fade, and a Czech Republic tour of Martinu’s The Knife’s Tears.
He has also directed a prison project with lifers, Sweeney Todd (HMP Kingston/Pimlico Opera), La Calisto (Early Opera Company), Hansel and Gretel (Opera North), the National Opera Studio Showcase 2010, The Bear (National Reisopera, Holland), My Brother’s Keeper (Edinburgh /Pleasance), Albert Herring (Aldeburgh) and David Almond’s critically-acclaimed play My Dad’s a Birdman, with original music by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (Young Vic).
In 2012 he was nominated for an ‘Achievement in Opera’ award by the TMA Awards for his leadership of Northern Ireland Opera, and he was also nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ in the 2013 Opera Awards.×
Dublin-born Máire Flavin represented Ireland at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, where she was a finalist in the Song Prize.
Having made her soprano début as Emmy Perth in Heinrich Marschner’s Der Vampyr at the Cork Summer Festival, Ms. Flavin’s recent engagements include her role and company début as Fiordiligi Così fan tutte with Opera North, the title role in Agrippina with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Irish Youth Opera under the baton of Jonathan Cohen, Tisbe in a new production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola Scottish Opera, Second Lady The Magic Flute Welsh National Opera under the baton of company music director Lothar Koenig. On the concert platform she sings Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the National Concert Hall, Dublin, and returns to the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
Previous seasons’ highlights include roles with Théâtre des Champs Elysées; Welsh National Opera; Scottish Opera; Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing; Glyndebourne on Tour; Opera Northern Ireland; Mid Wales Opera; Bampton Classical Opera; and Lyric Opera Dublin.×
A former member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, the Britten-Pears YAP and the National Opera Studio, Irish soprano Anna Devin is fast becoming established as one of today’s brightest young sopranos, highly praised for her strong stage presence and vocal versatility.
Recently, Anna joined the English Concert in Handel’s Alcina with Joyce Didonato, Alice Coote, Christine Rice and conductor Harry Bicket. In the same piece, she sang her role debut of Morgana with the Russian National Orchestra, under Frederico Maria Sardelli.
Recent concerts include a recital with Dearbhla Collins for the Hugh Lane Sunday Series in Dublin; guest soloist at the New Year’s Celebration with the RTÈ National Symphony Orchestra and recitals at the Wigmore Hall and a Milton Court Residency with Classical Opera. As an established early music specialist in the UK, Anna is now making her mark in the USA. In 2014 she performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah and with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for Brahm’s Requiem – all conducted by Christopher Warren Green.
Highlights for the upcoming season include a return to Handel’s Faramondo (Clotilde) with Brisbane Baroque – a role which received critical acclaim in Gottingen; the role of Nanetta in Robert Carsen’s production of Falstaff under Michael Schønwandt and a tour of Agrippina (Poppea) with IYO.×
Born in Omagh Co. Tyrone, Alan Ewing has sung for the Berlin State Opera, Zürich Opera House, Netherlands Opera, Maggio Musicale Florence, Theater an der Wien, and at the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Bregenz and Lucerne festivals. As a Handelian, he has sung with The English Concert, the Akadamie für Alte Musik Berlin, the Gabrieli Players, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and on award-winning recordings of Acis and Galatea with Les Ars Florissants and Giulio Cesare with Les Musiciens du Louvre. Mainstream repertory includes Osmin (for both Christie and Minkowski), Seneca, Sarastro, Leporello, Heinrich (Lohengrin), Fafner, Baron Ochs, Duke Bluebeard, Gremin and Sweeney Todd.
For The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he has recently sung Lord Fortune (the premiere of Judith Weir’s Miss Fortune), Zuniga (Carmen), the Hotel Manager and other roles (Powder Her Face), Lady Bracknell in Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and the Archbishop (King Roger) and will return next season for a revival of The Importance of Being Earnest in both London and in New York with the New York Philharmonic, and a new production of Shostakovich’s The Nose. Other plans include Powder her Face in Bilbao and Bottom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) in Japan.×
Irish mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly has already attracted considerable attention as a member of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Last season she earned unanimous praise for her portrayal of the Cat in El gato con botas (Puss in Boots) at the Linbury Theatre, with The Telegraph describing her performance as “a special delight”. Rachel also made a noted debut on the Royal Opera House main stage as Mercédès (Carmen) followed by performances as Second Esquire (Parsifal) and Javotte (Manon). She also appeared as Mirinda in Kasper Holten’s production of L’Ormindo conducted by Christian Curnyn, which marked the first ever collaboration between the Royal Opera House and Shakespeare’s Globe.
Rachel’s current season highlights with the Royal Opera House include Pisana (I due Foscari), Proserpina (Orfeo, at the Roundhouse, Camden), Mirinda (L’Ormindo), Zaida (Il turco in Italia) and Flora Bervoix (La traviata) as well as the preparation and understudy of Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) under Sir Mark Elder.×
Sharon Carty studied in Dublin and Vienna before becoming a member of the opera studio at Oper Frankfurt from 2010-2012. Since then she has a regular guest artist at Oper Frankfurt, with roles including Aloes (L’etoile) and Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), as well as the title role in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, a role debut which was lauded as “quite simply sensational” (Der Opernfreund).
January 2014 saw her creating the role of Oscar in the world premiere of “Oscar und die Dame in Rosa” at Theater Freiburg-the Stuttgarter Zeitung described her performance as that of a “young, agile, bright and round first-class Mezzo”. She recently returned to Theater Freiburg to sing the role of Medoro in Handel’s Orlando, and is looking forward to making company debuts with Irish Youth Opera (Ottone, Agrippina) and in Linz (Hänsel, Hänsel und Gretel) in the 2015-2016 season.
Sharon enjoys a busy concert schedule, working with orchestras such as the Wiener Akademie, Capella Istrapolitana, Camerata Ireland, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Irish Baroque Orchestra and Camerata Ireland. “The stream in the valley”, a Music Network- funded recording of English and Irish songs and duets by Benjamin Britten and other composers was released in March 2014 on the GENUIN label.×
Brendan trained at Cork School of Music where he was awarded the Pro Musica Singer of the Year Award. He continued his studies at the DITCMD and won a scholarship to study at La Monnaie de Munt Opera Studio. He holds a Gold Medal in acting from LAMDA.
Among his roles are Conte Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro¸Schaunard & Marcello La Bohème, Escamillo & Dancaire Carmen, Aeneas Dido and Aeneas, Leporello Don Giovanni, and Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has performed with Opera Ireland, Opera Theatre Company (OTC), English Touring Opera, Scottish Opera and Northern Ireland Opera.
He made his American début at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. with OTC performing the American Première of the Irish composer Steven Deazley’s opera Bug Off!
With Glyndebourne Festival Opera he appeared as Arthur Jones in Billy Budd at both the Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City.
His radio appearances have included broadcasts on RTE, Lyric FM and with BBC Radio 3 he performed Haydn’s Creation with the Ulster Orchestra and on RTE Radio 1 he performed a programme of operatic arias. He sang on the original cast recording of the Irish composer John Gibsons’ Judith and Holofernes singing the title role of Holofernes.×
Mezzo-soprano Dawn Burns is originally from Belfast and currently based in London. Last year she graduated with a Distinction from the MA Opera course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she studied with Suzanne Murphy and was kindly supported by the Leverhulme Trust.
Dawn is a current recipient of the BBC / ACNI Young Musicians’ Platform Award, and earlier this year she made her concert debut with the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast. She was also the winner of the NI Opera Festival of Voice competition in 2012.
In March Dawn was featured as a soloist on BBC In Tune, as part of the St Patrick’s Day Celebrations in Belfast.
Last year Dawn was a Young Artist at Mid Wales Opera, covering the role of Mercedes and performing in the chorus of Carmen. Dawn has also worked in the chorus at Grange Park Opera (Peter Grimes, The Queen of Spades), NI Opera (The Flying Dutchman, L’elisir D’amore) and Opera Holland Park (Lakmé, Aïda and L’amore dei tre Re). Dawn’s operatic roles include Florence Pike (Albert Herring), Dido (Dido and Aeneas), Minskwoman (Flight), Ida (Die Fledermaus) and Second Lady (The Magic Flute).
Future engagements include chorus in Turandot for NI Opera in the autumn×
Bass-baritone Padraic Rowan graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 2013 with a Masters in Music Performance, studying with Mary Brennan. He currently studies with Robert Dean in London.
A Jerwood Young Artist at the 2014 Glyndebourne Festival, recent awards include the 2014 Glyndebourne Wessex Award, the 2013 Dramatic Cup and Tony Quigley Award, and the 2013 Irené Sandford Award for Singers at the RIAM. He is a 2012 alumnus of the Opera Theatre Company Young Associate Artists’ Programme.
Recent engagements include Bass soloist/St. Matthew Passion (RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra); First Soldier/Salome (NI Opera); Dottore Grenvil (cover)/La Traviata (Glyndebourne Touring Opera); L’Autre Officier/Thérèse and The Regent/The Sleeping Queen (Wexford Festival Opera); Sailor/Billy Budd (Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music); Mr. Gedge/Albert Herring, Somnus/Semele (RIAM); and Pastore/Orfeo (Opera Theatre Company).
His concert and recital appearances include Glyndebourne’s Ebert Room Recital Series and the Brighton Festival. Upcoming engagements include the Handel Residency at the Académie du Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and competing in the final rounds of the 34th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Amsterdam.×