The eminent Irish composer Raymond Deane has been awarded Project Funding by the Arts Council of Ireland to develop a new opera in collaboration with Opera Collective Ireland for performance in 2018.
Based on Emma Donoghue’s stage adaptation of her 1996 radio play TRESPASSES, VAGABONES is a fictionalization of the judge’s own account of one of the tiny handful of witch trials that ever took place in Ireland. Set in Youghal, Co Cork, over three days in 1661, the play works as a moving tale of conflicted human emotions and stratagems, while deftly touching on issues of gender, fundamentalism, imperialism and the clash of cultures.
The composer writes:
“Given the company’s commitment to “the promotion of emerging Irish operatic talent while setting artistic standards at international level”, the challenge for the composer is to produce an opera that is suitable – and perhaps instructive – for young singers with little experience of contemporary opera, while entailing no element of stylistic compromise and being fully suited to the professional opera stage. The process of work-shopping Act 1 of the opera during 2017 will facilitate the attainment of this goal.”
Raymond Deane was born in Co Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, on 27 January 1953. From 1963 he lived in Dublin, where he studied at University College Dublin, graduating in 1974. He was a founding member of the Association of Young Irish Composers, and won numerous awards as a pianist.
He subsequently studied in Basle with Gerald Bennett, in Cologne with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and in Berlin with Isang Yun.
He was featured composer in the 1991 Accents Festival (with Kurtag) and the 1999 Sligo New Music Festival (with Roger Doyle). He has featured in several ISCM festivals (Mexico City, Manchester, Hong Kong), in the festivals l’Imaginaire irlandais (Paris 1996), Voyages (Montreal 2002), Warsaw Autumn (2004), and regularly in the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (his Ripieno for orchestra winning a special prize in 2000).
He was artistic director of the first two RTÉ Living Music Festivals (Dublin 2002/2004), showcasing the music of Luciano Berio and contemporary French music respectively. He was awarded a Doctorate in Composition by the National University of Ireland (Maynooth) in 2005. He has been a member of Aosdána, the government-sponsored academy of artists, since 1986.
His works have been commissioned by, among others, the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ (for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and the RTÉ Contempo String Quartet), the Irish Chamber Orchestra (three times), the Vanbrugh String Quaret, the Callino String Quartet, the Arditti String Quartet, the Schubert Ensemble of London, the bass-clarinettist Harry Sparnaay, the pianist Hugh Tinney (twice), the Danish Nordlys Ensemble, etc. His chamber operas The Poet and his Double and The Wall of Cloud were commissioned by Opera Theatre Company. His full-scale opera The Alma Fetish was given its concert premiere by Wide Open Opera in Dublin in 2013.
Raymond Deane has also published a novel (Death of a Medium, 1992) and a memoir (In my own Light, 2014).×