Begin the summer on a musical note with the Lismore Opera Festival, a three day event teeming with vibrant music, theatre and more. Taking place between the 2nd and 4th of June, this unique affair is set in the stunning surroundings of Lismore Castle and Gardens. Now in its seventh year, the festival invites you to experience original productions of the world’s best loved operas performed by Irish and international singers and an Irish Chamber orchestra right here in the sunny South-East.
Lighting up Lismore since 2010, the festival was founded by Jennifer O’Connell, the former Marketing Director of Opera Ireland and Dieter Kaegi, the former Artistic Director of Opera Ireland. Ireland’s only summer opera festival, it is an unparalleled event. Focusing on Mozart’s Cozi fan tutte, this year’s festivities offers a fresh production of the much loved comic opera.
Kindly taking time out of her busy schedule, Jennifer shared what prompted her and her colleague to establish the festival. After years of visiting Lismore, she fell in love with the area, believing it to be the perfect place to “marry the art form of opera with the beauty of the location”. The opulent castle environs provide an ideal setting, with the grounds’ stables transformed into a pop-up opera house. Not only enticing opera-lovers from all over to return annually, the festival is also welcomed each year by a drove of swallows that flock to the stables just in time for the musical happenings. It seems the love the festival has for the locality is mutual.
More popular than ever, Jennifer attributed the festival’s success to a steadfast blend of “tenacity, hard work and not giving up”, coupled with the loyal support of patrons, without whom she says the festival would not have survived. Such support enables new initiatives to be crafted which have drawn in more people, allowing it to thrive.
This year also sees the introduction of a Fringe Festival, which includes a wide range of events. Whether it’s a sitar performance in Saffron Indian Restaurant or traditional Irish music in Foley’s on the Mall, the Fringe Festival has something for everyone, introducing, in the words of Jennifer, “a little flavour of world music” to the weekend.
The festival aims to continue expanding, hoping next year will see three nights of opera rather than two. Judging by the excited interest buzzing around the event, this news will be welcomed with zeal. We here at SGC Dungarvan warmly welcome it too as supporting the arts are an ever passionate priority for us. We try to broadcast as many live performances from our screens as possible and so are delighted to get behind this Irish opera festival and its commendable melodious endeavours. Best of luck to all involved!
By Grace Collender