an opera by Raymond Deane
in association with Crash Ensemble
Based on the play "Trespasses" by Emma Donoguhe

Following the outstanding success of The Return of Ulysses at Kilkenny Arts Festival 2018, Opera Collective Ireland presents the World Première of Raymond Deane’s Vagabones. Based on Emma Donoghue’s stage adaptation of her 1996 radio play Trespasses, the opera with a libretto by Renate Debrun is a fictionalization of the judge’s own account of the case of Florence Newton in Youghal – one of only a handful of witch trials that ever took place in Ireland. Set in the small Co. Cork town over three days in 1661, the opera 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.

With a stellar cast of Irish talent, directed by Ben Barnes and the musicians of Crash Ensemble, Vagabones will be a culmination of great writing, superb theatre and thrilling music.


“Deane’s music was forceful and dynamic … I suspect nothing on Ireland’s opera stage, north or south, this year will equal this remarkable achievement.”

The Sunday Business Post on Raymond Deane’s opera “The Alma Fetish” (2013)


The author Emma Donoghue writes:

“In the mid 90s, when I came across the 1661 trial record of Florence Newton, the ‘Witch of Youghal’, what seized me was how rare a situation it illuminated – it’s one of only a tiny handful of Irish witch hunts – and how interesting the details were. The case grew out of Protestant/Catholic and settler/native misunderstandings and tensions that still affect the Northern Irish peace process (as well as the politics of other colonized nations) today. This story of a kiss that makes someone violently ill also asked questions about powerless women, what they might have to resort to for survival, and whether solidarity and tenderness might be possible between them. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible was one helpful reference, but also Brian Friel’s Translations.

               The first incarnation of Trespasses was as a radio play for RTE, because my concept was “voices in the dark”:  I wanted to see if I could explore Florence Newton’s persecution not in the dramatic spotlight of the courtroom drama but through three days of her imprisonment, so I gave her a fictional boy cellmate to talk to. I tried to make sense of the experiences that motivated the accuser, Mary Longdon, in terms both of epilepsy and her isolated position as an immigrant servant. When Trespasses moved on stage as a two-act theatre production, the story took on a more complex social quality as well as a vivid physicality. With this adaptation into the chamber opera Vagabones*, I am absolutely delighted that the tangled story of this troubled town is coming to life again in a whole new form.”

*Libretto by Renate Debrun.

Raymond DeaneComposer

Raymond Deane

Raymond Deane was born in 1953 in the west of Ireland. He moved with his family to Dublin in 1963, and gained his B.Mus degree from University College Dublin in 1974. He studied composition in Bale with Gerald Bennett (1974-75), in Cologne with Karlheinz Stockhausen (1976- 77), and in West Berlin, with Isang Yun (1978-9). He taught piano and composition in Oldenburg, Germany, between 1984-86. He was elected to the Irish government-sponsored academy of artists Aosdána in 1986, returning to Ireland the following year.

He was featured composer (with G. Kurtag) at the 1991 Accents Festival in Dublin, and (with Roger Doyle) at the 1998 Sligo New Music Festival. His works have often represented Ireland at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, and his large orchestral work Ripieno won a special award at the 2000 Rostrum. His works have been commissioned by, among others, RTÉ (for the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland), the Irish Chamber Orchestra (three times), the Vanbrugh String Quartet, the Callino String Quartet, the Arditti String Quartet, the Schubert Ensemble of London, the bass-clarinettist Harry Sparnaay, the pianist Hugh Tinney (twice), the 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’s NCH in 2013.

His novel Death of a Medium was published by Odell & Adair in 1992, and his memoir In My Own Light was published by Liffey Press in 2013. He has also published many articles down the years on music and politics.

He was artistic director of the first two RTÉ Festivals of Living Music, in 2002 and 2004. In 2005 he was awarded a Doctorate in Musical Composition by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. CDs entirely devoted to his music have appeared on the Black Box, Naxos/Marco Polo, Resonus Classics and RTÉ labels.

Raymond Deane lives as a freelance composer in central Dublin, and spends part of the year in Fürth, Bavaria.

For more information read

Renate DebrunLibrettist

Renate Debrun

Renate Debrun is a German-born Irish artist based in Dublin.

Self-taught, she started out painting on silk, then concentrated for a time on print-making and currently combines monotype and mixed media drawing. She exhibits regularly and her work is represented in corporate and private collections in Ireland and abroad.

During her younger years as a freewheeling hippy she traveled widely, living in Mexico, the US, Spain and the UK but also got around to completing an MA in languages and linguistics. She now lives and works mainly in Dublin, still travels much and spends a lot of time in France. She speaks English, German, French, Spanish and Greek, has recently started on Arabic. She has compiled an extensive repertoire of mainly Irish and Scottish slow airs, which she plays on the tin whistle.

Renate also works part-time as a professional plantswoman and gardener in Dublin, and more recently as a and writer. She is working on a collaborative project involving two scripts for TV and has written the libretto for the opera ‘Vagabones’ by Raymond Deane due to be premiered in 2019. She writes a weekly blog on gardening and plants on Facebook, titled Urban Gardener.

Ben BarnesDirector

Ben Barnes

Sineád HayesConductor

Sineád Hayes

Monica FrawleySet & costume design

Monica Frawley

John ComiskeyLighting design

John Comiskey

Rory DunneValentine Greatrakes

Rory Dunne

A graduate of both the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama (BMus Hons) and The Bull Alley Theatre Training Company, the bass-baritone Rory Dunne has studied as both an actor and a classical singer.

His career has led him to work with Irish National Opera, Cork Opera, Northern Ireland Opera, Wide Open Opera, Opera Theatre Company, Lyric Opera Productions, Opera in the Open and the RTÉConcert Orchestra Chorus, performing roles in the Wexford Opera House, the National Concert Hall, the Cork Opera House, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the Buxton Opera House.

He has been awarded prizes from Feis Ceoil, the Bernadette Greevy Bursary, Navan Choral Festival and the John McCormack Society, and the Northern Ireland Opera Glenarm Festival of Voice.

His roles have included Colline (La bohème),The Mikado (The Mikado), Monterone (Rigoletto), Haly (L’italiana in Algeri), Buck Mulligan (Eric Sweeney’s Ulysses), Dottore Grenvil (La traviata), Sciarrone (Tosca), Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro), David (A Hand of Bridge), Boatswain (HMS Pinafore),Talpa (Il tabarro), Fiorello (Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Dancaire(Carmen).

Carolyn HoltFlorence Newton

Carolyn Holt

Carolyn Holt is a mezzo-soprano from County Kildare. She recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where her roles included Sister Helen Prejean in the UK staged première of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. She graduated with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music in 2017, where she was a Kohn Foundation Bach Scholar, and was awarded a DipRAM for outstanding performance.

Carolyn made her debut with Irish National Opera in 2018 singing The Voice (Tales of Hoffmann). She was a semi-finalist and winner of the Dermot Troy Prize for the best Irish singer in the 2019 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, and in 2017 she was awarded the Audience Prize at Northern Ireland Opera’s Festival of Voice.

Opera and concert highlights include Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Mozart’s Requiem and C minor Mass, Elijah, Messiah, Bach’s Easter and Ascension Oratorios, Elgar’s Sea Pictures, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), Mrs Jones (Street Scene), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Jocasta (Oedipus Rex), Sesto (Giulio Cesare), Minskwoman (Flight) and La Zia Principessa (Suor Angelica).  

Carolyn has been generously supported by the Irish Arts Council, the Mario Lanza Trust and the Sybil Tutton Award.

Kelli-Ann MastersonDonal O'Dare

Kelli-Ann Masterson

Kelli-Ann Masterson is a soprano from County Wexford. She holds a BMusEd degree from Trinity College Dublin and MMus from DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Kelli-Ann is a member of the NI Opera Studio for 2018/2019. She has been selected as one of the 2019 ‘Rising Stars’ by University Concert Hall Limerick and is a company artist with Cork Opera House. A multi-prize winner at Feis Ceoil, this year Kelli-Ann won the Dramatic Cup and Tony Quigley Award.

Her operatic roles include Despina (Così fan tutte), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Amour (Pygmalion), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Amour (Orphée et Eurydice) and The Sandman/Dew Fairy (Hansel and Gretel).

Engagements in 2019 include the role of Vespetta (Pimpinone) with Opera Collective Ireland at the Killaloe Chamber Music Festival, Chloé (Offenbach’s Daphnis et Chloé) with NI Opera Studio as well as oratorio and concert performances with Our Lady’s Choral Society.

Sarah PowerMary Longdon

Sarah Power

Bray soprano Sarah Power studied at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin and the National Opera Studio in London before moving to Glasgow to work for Scottish Opera as an emerging artist. She has received many prizes including the RDS €10,000 Bursary and second prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall in London.

Sarah has appeared in productions for Welsh National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera and Scottish Opera,and recently made her debut with Irish National Opera performing the role of Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in a national tour of Ireland.

Other recent performances include the Irish premiere of Howard Goodall’s Invictus with the Bray Choral Society, ‘La Donna Barocca’ with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Haydn’s Creation in Athens and the title role in a newly-devised work entitled Hazel: Made in Belfast at Carnegie Hall, New York.

Future performances include Jenkins’ The Armed Man with Enchiriadis Treis, Mozart’s Requiem with the Bray Choral Society, a Bach and Handel recital with the Dunedin Consort in Edinburgh and song recitals in Austria.

Rory MusgraveThe Mayor

Rory Musgrave

Rory Musgrave is a baritone from Connemara. He recently made his international operatic debut in Tokyo, Japan, singing Solaris by Dai Fujikura and has just returned from Weimar, Germany where he sang Dr Falke (Die Fledermaus).

Other opera engagements include Schaunard (La bohème) and Il Barone (La traviata) for Lyric Opera, Schaunard (La bohème), Count Gil (Susanna’s Secret) and chorus (Rigoletto, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and L’elisir d’amore) with Opera Theatre Company, Smirnov (The Bear), Magnus (Herculanum), Bell (Guglielmo Ratcliff) and chorus (Silent Night) at Wexford Festival Opera, Second Soldier and Naaman (Salome) and chorus (Macbeth and L’elisir d’amore) for Northern Ireland Opera, Junius (The Rape of Lucretia) and Eumete (The Return of Ulysses) with Opera Collective Ireland, Richard Nixon (cover) and chorus (Nixon in China) for (Wide Open Opera), and a national tour of Andrew Synott’s The Dead singing Gabriel Conroy for The Performance Corporation/Breda Cashe Productions.

Rory was named Opera Theatre Company: Opera Hub Emerging Artist, and received the PWC Bursary and the Arnholm Bursary at Wexford Festival Opera.

Ross ScanlonJohn Pyne

Ross Scanlon

Tenor Ross Scanlon trained at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama where he was awarded the Michael McNamara Gold Medal of excellence,and at the Royal Academy of Music, London. At the Royal Academy of Music Opera School he performed roles such as Lurcanio (Ariodante), Masino (La vera costanza), Monostatos (Die Zauberflöte) and Scaramuccio (Ariadne auf Naxos).

Elsewhere, his roles include Le Thérière (L’Enfant et les sortilèges) with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, London, Male Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia) and Iro (The Return of Ulysses) for Opera Collective Ireland, Ed (A Belfast Opera) for Northern Ireland Opera, Hot Biscuit (Paul Bunyan) for Welsh National Youth Opera, The Bookkeeper (The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) for Opera Theatre Company, Dublin, Remendado (Carmen) for Lyric Opera, Dublin and,Tamino (The Magic Flute) for Glasthule Opera.

Concert engagements include Messiah and The Creation with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Messiah at the Halle Festival, Germany, at the Handel Music Festival, Dublin, and with the Irish Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ross was recently invited to perform for HRH Prince Charles with the Ulster Orchestra.