Each year when we audition young singers at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, we ask them about their ambitions for the future. Almost always their answer is “to sing in opera.”
Our annual opera production is the first step on that journey, introducing our student singers to the challenges and excitement of opera. Each year an opera is chosen to suit the voices and vocal development of our current students. Each year the students rise to the challenges we set them.
Our productions bring together musical expertise from within the Academy, students of stage design, and professional directors and designers from the world of opera. In recent years, we have benefited greatly from our collaborations with Design for Stage and Screen at IADT Dun Laoghaire and The Lir Academy of Dramatic Art at Trinity College Dublin. In striving for the highest standards of professionalism, we ensure that our singers are well-prepared for what lies ahead and we take great pride in the fact that many of our former students have gone on to forge successful careers in the competitive world of opera.
RIAM Opera actively supports the work of contemporary composers: in 2017 we commissioned Siobhan Cleary to compose Vampirella to a libretto by Katie Hayes, based on Angela Carter's short story. Other productions have included Kevin O'Connell's Sensational, Juith Weir's Scipio's Dream and Stephen McNeff's Banished.
Kathleen Tynan, Head of Vocal Studies & Opera, Royal Irish Academy of Music
In January 2019, RIAM presented Stephen McNeff's Banished in the atmospheric site-specific location of Kilmainham Gaol.
Putting young women firmly centre-stage, this new work tells the compelling story of women who were transported to Australia in the last years of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and their survival against all odds on a long, arduous and dangerous passage to the other side of the world
Kilmainham Gaol, now one of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe, was the extraordinary site-specific setting for this captivating new work.
The Gaol's own history as a depot for convicts before they were transported to Australia made this a poignant setting for this new work.
Photos: Colm Hogan