OWEN WINGRAVE

an opera by Benjamin Britten
in association with the Académie de l'Opéra national de Paris & the ICO
"Courage in war is false, courage in peace, as poets know, wins everything.”

An opera in two acts

Libretto by Myfanwy Piper based on a short story by Henry James

As pertinent now as then, OWEN WINGRAVE was composed by Benjamin Britten at the height of the Vietnam War. The opera poses the question: Is pacifism an act of cowardice? Or rather a desire to escape from the spiral of war and create world peace? To what extent do we determine our own futures? Should we let past events inform the decisions we make? Britten’s characters grapple with timeless issues in this gripping psychodrama.

THE STORY

At Coyle’s cramming establishment in London, Owen and his friend Lechmere are learning the strategy of battle. At the end of the lesson, Owen declares that he cannot go through with a military career. Coyle is angry but agrees to break the news to the Wingrave family for whom soldiering has been a way of life for decades. At their haunted country house, Paramore, Owen is rounded on by his aunt Miss Wingrave, his fiancée Kate Julian and her mother. The elderly head of the family, Sir Philip Wingrave, who fought at Bhurtpore, is similarly outraged. In the Prologue to Act Two, a ballad singer narrates the tale of the young Wingrave boy killed by his brutal father for refusing to fight over an argument with a friend. Sir Philip disowns Owen, depriving him of his inheritance. Kate humiliates Owen by flirting with Lechmere. After everyone has gone to bed, Owen, left alone, reflects on his predicament and reaffirms his passionate belief in peace. Kate comes looking for him. She taunts him with cowardice and dares him to sleep in the haunted room…

“One needs hardly emphasise how many threads from the deepest of Britten’s preoccupations, formulated in wholly characteristic dramatic and musical images, are drawn together as the opera moves to its ironic close. These are major preoccupations and this is a major theatrical work, in which they are again pressed home with consummate art.”

Donald Mitchell writing in The Listener

Reduced orchestration prepared by David Matthews. 

Performances by arrangement with Faber Music Ltd, London.

Photos © Frances Marshall Photography

Supported by the French Embassy in Ireland https://ie.ambafrance.org

CREATIVE TEAM:
Stephen BarlowConductor

Stephen Barlow

Stephen Barlow is the Artistic Director of Buxton Festival, for which he has conducted Intermezzo, La Colombe, La Princesse Jaune, The Jacobin, Otello, Lucia di Lammermoor and Louise.

He has conducted the premières of his own opera King in Canterbury Cathedral and of his Clarinet Concerto with Emma Johnson and the Ulster Orchestra; The Rake’s Progress with Nationale Reisopera; Faust and Nabucco in Australia; Bluebeard’s Castle with the Auckland Philharmonia; FalstaffRusalka and Norma at Grange Park Opera; the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme Summer Concert at the Royal Opera House and Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 1977 he began a long association with Glyndebourne conducting The Rake’s Progress for GTO. He co-founded Opera 80 where he was Music Director between 1988 and 1991. During this period he was resident conductor at the English National Opera‚ conducted with Scottish Opera‚ Dublin Grand Opera‚ Opera Northern Ireland‚ Opera North and made his Royal Opera debut at Covent Garden conducting Turandot‚ where he later returned for Die Zauberflöte. He was Artistic Director of Opera Northern Ireland from 1996 to 1999. Productions include The Cunning Little Vixen at ENO‚ La Bohème at Grange Park‚ IdomeneoThe Barber of SevilleFidelio and Madama Butterfly in Belfast‚ Albert Herring‚ Falstaff‚ The Marriage of Figaro and Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Garsington and Madam Butterfly with Opera North.

Stephen made his international debut in 1989 conducting The Rake’s Progress for Vancouver Opera‚ since when he has returned for Madam Butterfly and Tosca. His US debut followed in 1990 when he conducted Capriccio with the San Francisco Opera and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and then his Australian debut‚ in 1991‚ with Die Zauberflöte for Victoria State Opera. Subsequent foreign engagements include Elektra and Gounod’s Faust in Seville‚ The Cunning Little Vixen in Berlin‚ Capriccio and I Capuletti ed I Montecchi in Sicily‚ Rigoletto in Tirana‚ Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Riga‚ Madama ButterflyDon Giovanni and Il Trovatore in Auckland‚ La Cenerentola and Turandot with Florida Grand Opera‚ Carmen in Melbourne‚ Turandot in Miami and Romeo et Juliette for the State Opera of South Australia.

In addition to his operatic work‚ he has conducted most of the major UK orchestras‚ and concert appearances further afield have taken him to Aarhus‚ Adelaide‚ Amsterdam‚ Belgrade‚ Bilbao‚ Brisbane‚ Copenhagen‚ Detroit‚ Johannesburg‚ Lausanne‚ Lille and Perth. In 1997 he was appointed Music Director of the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra. Recordings include Joseph James’ Requiem with Sumi Jo and his own composition Rainbow Bear with his wife‚ Joanna Lumley‚ as narrator.

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Tom CreedDirector

Tom Creed

Tom is a theatre and opera director based in Dublin.

Opera and music theatre productions include world premieres of Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger in St Louis and New York, Annelies van Parys’s Private View in Antwerp, Ghent, Rotterdam, Stuttgart, Budapest, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Jürgen Simpson’s air india [redacted] in Vancouver, as well as The Human Voice and Susanna’s Secret for Opera Theatre Company, Mavra and The Bear for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Die Zauberflöte, Suor Angelica, Mavra and Renard for the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

His extensive work as a theatre director over the past ten years includes productions for the Abbey Theatre, Gate Theatre, Rough Magic, his own company Playgroup and a range of independent Irish companies, which have played in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA. He was nominated for Best Director at the Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2007.

Tom was Festival Director of Cork Midsummer Festival from 2011 to 2013, and was nominated for an Irish Times Irish Theatre Award in 2012 “for original and dynamic use of local spaces at Cork Midsummer Festival”. He has previously been Theatre and Dance Curator of Kilkenny Arts Festival and Associate Director of Rough Magic Theatre Company.

 

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Aedín CosgroveSet & lighting

Aedín Cosgrove

Aedín Cosgrove co-founded Pan Pan in 1991 with Gavin Quinn. Designs for Pan Pan include A Bronze Twist of Your Serpent Muscles (winner of Best Overall Production, Dublin Fringe Festival, 1995), Standoffish, Cartoon, Mac-Beth 7 (nominated for Best Lighting, Irish Times Theatre Awards, 2004), One: Healing with Theatre, Oedipus Loves You, The Idiots, Playboy of the Western World, (Beijing), The Crumb Trail (nominated for Best Lighting, Irish Times Theatre Awards, 2010), The Rehearsal Playing the Dane, at Dublin Theatre Festival 2010 (winner Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Set Design & Best Production 2011), Do Di Zhu for Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre and Irish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo and All That Fall by Samuel Beckett, August 2011 (winner Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Lighting Design).

In 2006, Cosgrove travelled with director Sarah-Jane Scaife to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Athens, Greece, to the Samuel Beckett Centenary Residency program during which time they produced Come and Go, Rough for Theatre I, Act Without Words II, Footfalls, and Nacht und Träume. Later, they travelled to Bei Wei University Beijing to work on translation into Mandarin of Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats, which was published in 2011 and the readings were presented at Shanghai Expo. In 2009 they produced Act Without Words II at ABSOLUT Fringe which was then presented at Dublin Theatre Festival 2010 as part of the Re-viewed programme.

From 1994 to 1996 she also worked with Corcadorca designing all aspects of the original productions of Disco Pigs and Misterman by Enda Walsh. At this time Cosgrove has also designed lighting for Abbey Theatre productions including The Mai by Marina Carr. More recently, Aedín had designed for theatre, dance and opera productions including No Worst There Is None (The Stomach Box, 2010, Winner of Best Production, Irish Times Theatre Awards), Five Ways to Drown (junk ensemble, 2010), Don Pasquale (Opera Theatre Company, 2012), and Man of Valour (The Corn Exchange Theatre Company, 2011, Winner Best Overall Design ABSOLUT Fringe 2011 and Best Lighting Design, Irish Times Theatre Awards).

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Catherine FayCostumes

Catherine Fay

Catherine Fay is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design.

She has recently designed a number of productions for the Abbey Theatre, as well as for Landmark Productions, Barnstorm Theatre Company, the Gate Theatre, Opera Theatre Company, Emma Martin Dance, Corcadorca, and Liz Roche Company. She designed much of Bedrock Productions’ back catalogue.

Other work includes productions by National Youth Theatre, junk ensemble, Second Age Theatre Company, Gaiety Theatre, Calypso Theatre Company, HATCH Theatre Company, Semper Fi, Storytellers Theatre Company, Gare St Lazare, Fishamble: The New Play Company, Operating Theatre and The Corn Exchange.

Awards

Nominated Best Costume Design Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards 2014 for “Breaking Dad” (Landmark Productions) and “Our Few and Evil Days” (Abbey Theatre)

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Jules van HulstVideo

Jules van Hulst

Born in Nijmegen 1984 the Netherlands. Graduated Bachelor of Design in 2005 at ArtEZ
Hoge School voor de Kunsten Zwolle. Since than active as autonomous visual artist in both
painting as digital media.

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Wieger SteenhuisVideo

Wieger Steenhuis

Wieger Steenhuis (1982) is a designer, colorist and technical production manager. After finishing his studies (Bachelor of Social and Cultural education) he developed and co-produced the Dutch Shortfilm and Video-Art Festival Beeldbuis from 2009 untill 2014. Since then he initiated and produced numerous projects, utilizing visual techniques like video and projection mapping. Furthermore he is a colorist, working on color correction and color grading of short films and documentaries.
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Eoghan CarrickDramaturgy

Eoghan Carrick

Eoghan is a freelance director, lighting designer and dramaturg. In 2015, he was made an Associate Director with Corn Exchange Theatre Company. In the coming months, he will be directing Nora for Corn Exchange and will be working with Landmark and Wide Open Opera on The Second Violinist both at the Dublin Theatre Festival
As a dramaturg, he works with the Abbey Theatre’s New Work Department in Ireland.
Recent directing credits includes: Spliced (Seen and Heard, 2017), Infinity (Seen and Heard, 2017), The Boyz of Harcourt Street (Smock Alley Theatre, 2016), This Lime Tree Bower (Project Arts Centre, 2016),  The Matador (Bewley’s Theatre, 2015), Panned (Theatre Upstairs, 2015) and The Ugly One (The Lir, 2014).
As an assistant director, he has worked with the Abbey Theatre, Corn Exchange Theatre Company, Landmark Productions, Opera Theatre Company, the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Wide Open Opera.
Eoghan has a B.A. International in Drama and English from UCD and a MFA with Distinction in Theatre Directing from The Lir Academy at Trinity College Dublin.
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CAST:
Benjamin RussellOwen Wingrave

Benjamin Russell

Benjamin Russell is a member of the ensemble of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden where his repertoire includes Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Papageno), Le nozze di Figaro (title role), Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (Malatesta), Puccini’s La bohème (Schaunard), Strauss’s Die Fledermaus (Falke), Wagner’s Das Rheingold (Donner) and Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten (Haudy).

Elsewhere he sang Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (Junius) at the Aldeburgh Festival, the recording of which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 2014.

His appearances both at home and abroad include Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen in Wiesbaden, as well as concerts at the NCH and Hong Kong’s City Hall.

An honours graduate of the RIAM where he studied with Sylvia O’Regan and Brenda Hurley, Ben completed his formal training at the International Opera Studio of the Zurich Opera House. He was a prizewinner at the International Vocal Competition in s’Hertogenbosch (2010) and a finalist in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition (2010).

Plans for the 2017/18 season in Wiesbaden include debuts in Wagner’s Tannhäuser (Wolfram), Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera (Silvano), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Masetto) and further performances as Papageno.

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Christopher CullSpencer Coyle

Christopher Cull

Christopher Cull is an alumnus of Queen’s University Belfast, the RIAM, the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and the National Opera Studio. A former OTC Young Artist, Christopher studies with Robert Dean.

Appearances include Puccini’s La bohème (Marcello) for Opera Holland Park, Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Masetto) and Verdi’s Macbeth (Assassin/Apparition) for NI Opera, Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Lane/Merriman) for NI Opera/Wide Open Opera, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (Le geôlier/Javelinot) for Grange Park Opera, Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Billy) for OTC, Gounod’s Faust (Valentin) for Clonter Opera and Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia (Collatinus) for OCI.

Christopher recently made his Barbican Hall debut in Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Concert engagements include Johannes-Passion (RTÉ NSO), Elijah (Jubilate Choir), Monteverdi Vespers 1610 (Sheffield Oratorio Chorus), Ein deutsches Requiem (The Angmering Chorale), Messiah (Aberdeen Choral Society) and a concert of arias with the Ulster Orchestra broadcast by the BBC.

A BBC/Arts Council of Northern Ireland Young Musicians’ Platform winner and a finalist in the Chilcott Award (2014), Christopher’s studies have been generously supported by the Girdlers’ Company, Unum Ltd, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland.

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Peter O'ReillyLechmere

Peter O'Reilly

Peter O’Reilly, who makes his professional operatic debut in OCI’s Owen Wingrave, is an honours graduate of the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama where he studied under the tutelage of his current teacher Emmanuel Lawler. Peter has participated in masterclasses with distinguished musicians such as Graham Johnson, Patricia Bardon, Brenda Hurley and Benjamin Appl. A multiple prize-winner, he was recently awarded the Cuisine de France John McCormack Bursary at the ESB Feis Ceoil. As a student Peter’s operatic repertoire included Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Don Basilio) & Lehár’s The Merry Widow (Camille).

Notable engagements include two world premieres – the tenor soloist in Odhrán O’Casaide’s Marbhna 1916, and a Landy Worker in Andrew Synnott’s Breakdown. Peter has also played leading roles for Lyric Opera Productions at the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton Opera House and with the Rathmines & Rathgar Musical Society in the National Concert Hall, Dublin. As a concert soloist he has appeared with many of Ireland’s leading choral societies including the Dublin County Choir, the Culwick Choral Society, the Tallaght Choral Society, the Guinness Choir, and in November 2016 with Our Lady’s Choral Society under the baton of Proinnsías O’Duinn.

 

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Roisín WalshMiss Wingrave

Roisín Walsh

Roisín Walsh began her vocal training with Olive Cowpar in her native Limerick before going on to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, with Professor Susan Waters. Her qualifications from the GSMD include a MMus in Vocal Performance, an Advanced Certificate in Opera Studies and an Artist Diploma. She has subsequently completed her training at the National Opera Studio in London. Roisín also holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Limerick. Roisín has been the recipient of many awards and prizes including the Cait Lanigan-Cooper Bursary at the ESB Feis Ceoil and more recently the Bernadette Greevy Bursary.

While at the GSMD Roisín’s repertoire included Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Marcellina), Massenet’s La Navarraise (Anita), Poulenc’s Dialogue des Carmélites (Sœur Mathilde) and Britten’s Owen Wingrave (Miss Wingrave). She later repeated her success as Miss Wingrave at the Banff Centre for Performing Arts in Canada. She has sung in the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus where she undertook Second Soprano in Frühlingszyklus (a new composition for the festival by Luke Styles), and appeared with Scottish Opera where her credits include the Opera Highlights Tour and Bizet’s Carmen (Micaëla cover). She has also sung Micaëla with Opera Up Close and the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel with the Sinfonia d’Amici.

Future engagements include further performances as Micaëla and a return to Scottish Opera.

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Rachel CroashMrs Coyle

Rachel Croash

Rachel Croash is a graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music and an alumna of the OTC’S HUB Artist Programme, and was the recipient of both the WFO Aria Friends Award and WFO & PwC Emerging Artist Bursary at the 2015 Wexford Festival Opera.

Operatic appearances include Così fan tutte (Fiordiligi) at the Lismore Opera Festival, the title role in Wolf-Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret for OTC and performances at Wexford Festival Opera, including Il campanella (Serafina), Koanga (Renée), Hänsel und Gretel (Dew Fairy) and La traviata (Annina). She appeared in The Merry Widow (Valencienne) with Lyric Opera and with the Cork Operatic Society in Carmen (Frasquita). Contemporary opera credits include Flatpack (Gorm) with the Ulysses Theatre Company and The Oldest Woman in Limerick (the narrator) with Wide Open Opera. Rachel made her German debut this summer in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Amor) at the Festival Gut Immling.

She has performed in concert with the RTÉ NSO, the Wexford Sinfonia and the City of Dublin Chamber Orchestra, and at the Drogheda International Classical Music Series and Ardee Baroque Festival. She has given recitals under the auspices of Music for Galway, the Dublin Philharmonic Society, Sligo Con Brio and the Contemporary Music Centre. Rachel has also performed at the Metropolitan Club, New York with pianist Finghín Collins for the Irish-US Council and the then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

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Amy Ní FhearraighMrs Julian

Amy Ní Fhearraigh

Amy Ní Fhearraigh is an honours graduate of the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama where she was the recipient of a number of awards and prizes including the La Scala prize and Gertrude Morris-Grant Cup. She continues her vocal studies with Sinéad Campbell-Wallace. She has also won a number of prizes ath the ESB Feis Ceoil.

She has participated in masterclasses with artists such as Susan Bullock, Patricia Bardon and Brenda Hurley and has attended the Oxenfoord Music Festival where she trained with distinguished coaches Malcolm Martineau, Martin Pickard and Susanna Stranders.

Amy’s operatic repertoire includes Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Susanna), Handel’s Susanna (title role), Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Drusilla) and Gluck’s Armide (Lucinde). She made her professional debut with Lyric Opera Productions in Bizet’s Carmen (Frasquita) while other notable performances include Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (La Cugina) with the RTÉ CO and Handel’s Solomon (the Queen and Second Woman) as part of the ‘Choral Fusion’ series conducted by David Brophy.

Elsewhere Amy has performed for the Veronica Dunne Singing Competition in its ‘Summer Festival Opera Gala’ and as part of the ‘Drogheda International Classical Music Series’. Earlier in 2017 she featured in a Rising Stars Concert in the University Concert Hall Limerick and made her debut with the RTÉ NSO for Lorcan Murray’s ‘Classic Drive’, recorded live in the RTÉ Radio 1 studio.

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Sarah RichmondKate

Sarah Richmond

Sarah Richmond is a former ENO Opera Works Artist and NI Opera Young Artist. Prior to participating in NOS Short Course, she graduated from the RNCM with distinction as a Drapers’ de Turckheim Scholar.

Her operatic repertoire encompasses Rossini’s Il barbiere di Sevilla (Rosina), Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Dritte Dame), Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado (Peep-Bo), Puccini’s La rondine (Bianca/Gabriella) and spans epochs from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolen).

She has appeared with, amongst others, Pavilion Opera, NI Opera/Nevill Holt Opera, Iford Arts, Castleward Opera, Wide Open Opera, Lyric Opera and Clonter Opera. Recital credits include the Oxford Lieder Festival, UK Strauss Society, Chester Music Festival, Queen’s University and the Dublin Song Series.

She has performed in concert under prominent conductors such as Vasily Petrenko, Gergely Madaras and Sir Mark Elder. She has performed regularly on BBC Radio Ulster and has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, PBS, RTÉ and UTV. A CD of ‘Songs of Spring and Winter’ featuring Sarah, conducted by Paul Daniel, was released by Stretto Records

Chosen as winner of ‘The Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss’ by Dame Janet Baker, she was recently the recipient of Wexford Festival Opera’s Arnhold Bursary as well as the PwC WFO Emerging Young Artist Award.

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Andrew BoushellSir Philip/Narrator

Andrew Boushell

Before participating in the Opera Works programme at ENO, Andrew Boushell completed an opera performance diploma at the Operastudio Vlaanderen, Belgium supported by the Arts Council of Ireland. He is an honours graduate of the DIT and the Royal College of Music where his studies were supported by the Douglas & Hilda Simmonds Award. Andrew’s extensive oratorio repertoire includes works by Puccini, Handel, Purcell, Gounod, Bruckner, Bach and Britten while on the operatic stage he has appeared with Opera Ireland (The young collector in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire and the older brother in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking) and OTC (Toby Higgins in Weill’s The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny). As a member of OTC’s Young Associate Artist Programme he appeared throughout the country in Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne.

Other engagements include the Iford Arts Festival in Handel’s Susanna (First Elder, cover) with Christian Curnyn’s Early Opera Company and to the Rye Arts Festival in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (Ferrando), a role he had sung previously with the DIT/Opera Ireland. More recently he returned to ENO to cover the role of Števa Buryja in Janáček’s Jenůfa.

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