Opera in the Valley

Blackwater Opera Festival to run over nine packed days

An exciting programme for this year’s Blackwater Valley Opera Festival (Tuesday, May 28th to Monday, June 3rd) was announced at a reception held at Cappoquin House.
This year’s festival, which will be primarily based in Lismore, features four operas (one of them a free performance for school children), nine day-time recitals and two evening concerts, embracing opera and chamber music. This year’s operatic centrepiece this year is Donizetti’s witty comic opera ‘Don Pasquale’, which will be staged in the Lismore Castle’s Old Stable Yard (in a pop-up auditorium with raked seating) on Wednesday, May 29th, Friday, May 31st and Saturday, June 1st.
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At the reception, Festival Chairman Michael Alen-Buckley introduced new Festival Director, Eamonn Carroll. “We have seen this beautiful, local West Waterford Festival grow legs in recent years and with the appointment of Eamonn as Festival Director, we will see it move onto the next stage of its development and international reputation. Of course, none of this would be possible without the unwavering support of our long list of sponsors and supporters, in particular our two headline sponsors, Kildare Village and JLT. We are immensely grateful to all of them.”Eamonn Carroll added: “We are encouraged by the mounting level of interest and anticipation in this year’s Festival. In addition to the opera centrepiece, we also have a marvellous programme of recitals and concerts arranged by our artistic director Dieter Kaegi. With tickets selling very well for all performances we are really looking forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary this year with returning festival friends and many new ones.”

The Festival will also presents a series of day-time recitals hosted in Salterbridge, Cappoquin and Tourin Houses, in addition to St Carthage’s Cathedral, St Carthage’s Church and Villierstown Church. The theme for these recitals is to showcase works of cherished Irish composers, to that end there will be three recitals entitled ‘Recollections of Ireland’ exclusively devoted to Irish music.

This series, curated by Una Hunt, includes:
* ‘The Harps of Ireland’ featuring Siobhan Armstrong playing a historical wire-strung harp and Clare McCague playing a pedal harp.
* ‘The Songs of Erin and Gems of Irish Opera’: a classic collection of songs performed by festival favourites, Rachel Kelly (soprano) and Gavan Ring (baritone).
* ‘The French Connection’, performed by Trio Celtique, a piano trio who will play chamber music by Irish composers and those who lived part of their life in France.
There’ll also be a rare opportunity to experience the delightful operetta, ‘The Sleeping Queen’ composed by Ireland’s leading 19th Century opera composer, Michael William Balfe at St Carthage’s Cathedral.
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This year’s Festival will also present two back-to-back RDS Collins Memorial prize winners at St Carthage’s Cathedral: 2019 award winner Killian White on cello accompanied on the piano by 2018’s award winner, Máire Carroll, already known by BVOF audiences following last year’s performance. St Carthage’s Parish Church will open its doors to the Festival for the first time this year for an organ recital by Simon Harden who will be accompanied by Dearbhla Nolan on trumpet.

The opening recital of the Festival takes place at Villierstown Church on Thursday (May 30th) presenting arias, duets and ensembles from favourite operas from around the world sung by this year’s Festival Chorus. The following day, Friday (31st), the Festival’s ‘Double Bill’ recital at Dromore Yard opens with the Irish Heritage Bursary Recital, the UK based organisation promoting the careers of young Irish musicians in the UK, with Tara Viscardi (Harp), Peter Harris (Tenor) and Amy Gillen (Flute) accompanied by Brian Hughes on piano.
In the afternoon the Festival introduces a new collaboration with the ‘Zürich International Opera Studio’, which has become one of the most important educational institutions for budding young opera singers in the world. Justyna Bluj (Polish Soprano) Richard Walshe (English Bass-Baritone) and Gemma Ni Bhriain (Irish Mezzo) are accompanied on piano by Brenda Hurley.

Dromore Yard, a romantically restored 19th Century farmyard on the banks of the Blackwater River at Aglish, plays host to two very special evening concerts. The concert on Thursday evening (May 30th) features three exceptionally talented musicians who come together in concert for the very first time.Nadege Rochat who enthralled her audience at the same venue last year on her Stradivarius cello is joined by Pablo Barragán on clarinet and Maki Wiederkehr on piano. The concert entitled, ‘Impressions’, will feature the works of Stanford, Trimble, Ireland & Brahms.On Sunday evening (June 2nd) world-famous Italian pianist Giovanni Bellucci plays a programme of opera paraphrases, for which he has gathered a devoted international following.

This will be a unique opportunity to experience this extraordinary performer who has played solo concerts in many of the great opera houses of the world.
Said Festival Artistic Director, Dieter Kaegi: “We are honoured and delighted that Mr Bellucci has agreed to play a concert with the most challenging opera paraphrases composed by Liszt at our Blackwater Valley Opera Festival. It allows us to showcase one of the greatest piano playing talents today”.There will also be an outstanding array of dining and hospitality choices at this year’s Festival, from a three-course opera dinner prepared by acclaimed, local chef Eunice Power in the restaurant marquee in the gardens of Lismore Castle, to a culinary special ‘family style’ at Dromore Yard presented by rising star, Rose Greene. At both venues on each night, informal picnic options will be provided by Mezze of Waterford.

All of the day-time recitals have a lunch option available prepared by talented local chefs and businesses whose food is locally sourced, prepared with loving care and served with the grace of traditional Irish hospitality.Tickets for day-time recitals start from as little as €10 with Concerts from €20. Opera tickets are available from €85. Several of the recitals have concessions for OAPs, community groups and Under-12s.

More information can be obtained by contacting the Festival Box Office on 085-2078944 or www.blackwatervalleyoperafestival.com

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