Northern Ireland Opera (NIO) is set to stage a programme of short musical productions as part of its Salon Series, the opera company has announced.
Northern Ireland’s national opera company will perform one-act staged productions of opera, cabaret, song-cycles, music theatre and Irish art song every month at the Playhouse in Derry/Londonderry and the MAC in Belfast.
Each Salon Series production lasts around an hour, providing an ideal introduction to different types of vocal performance. NIO’s chief executive and artistic director Cameron Menzies will direct members of the company in the shows.
First in the series is Sea Wrack, a selection of art songs by Irish composers from Hamilton Harty to Neil Hannon. Soprano Susie Gibbons, mezzo-soprano Jenny Bourke, tenor Michael Bell and baritone Seamus Brady will perform with pianist Frasier Hickland.
The performance takes place at the MAC on 12 November at 7.45pm, with tickets costing £30. A second show is scheduled at the Playhouse on 2 March 2024; tickets cost £20.
Poulenc’s La voix humaine (The Human Voice, 1959) is a gripping and dramatic one-woman, one-act opera in which we eavesdrop as a woman’s relationship breaks down over the course of a phone call. It is performed by soprano Mary McCabe and pianist David Quigley.
This staging of the opera takes place at 8pm on 18 November at the Playhouse. Tickets cost £20.
The Lost Boy: Street Scenes and Soldiers’ Tales is an evening of cabaret and music theatre songs about loss, love and hope, performed by vocalist Conor Quinn. The music explores a young man’s journey into adulthood with songs inspired by unrest and war.
It will be performed at the MAC on 2 December at 8pm, with tickets costing £30. It will then head to the Playhouse on 20 April 2024 for an 8pm performance costing £20.
The next production in the Salon Series is a double-bill of song-cycles: Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children, 1904) and Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death (1875-77). The former is a set of five songs based on the work of the poet Rückert written after the death of two of his children. It will be performed by mezzo-soprano Margaret Bridge and pianist Tristan Russcher.
Mussorgsky’s masterpiece is a set of four songs in which Death is personified in a series of stories about life and death, performed by baritone Brendan Collins and pianist Tristan Russcher.
The performance will take place on 23 March 2024 at 7.45pm at the MAC, with tickets costing £30.
A double-bill of songs exploring themes of love and loss will provide audiences with an experience of live French art song. Hahn’s À Chloris is a setting of a poem by the French poet Théophile de Viau. Composed in 1916, it tells of a shepherdess named Chloris. Soprano Anna Gregg will perform the song along with a selection of mélodies by Hahn.
It will be followed by Berlioz’s song-cycle Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights, 1841), based on Théophile Gautier’s poems. Mezzo-soprano Jenny Bourke and pianist Bryan Evans perform.
Performances take place on 20 January 2024 at 7.45pm at the MAC (£30) and on 27 January 2024 at 8pm at the Playhouse (£20).
The final production in the Salon Series is Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, an evening of songs from the golden age of musical theatre. It includes works by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein, performed by soprano Wendy Ferguson and pianist Ruth McGinley.
Performances take place on 13 April 2024 at 7.45pm at Belfast’s MAC theatre (tickets cost £30) and 25 May 2024 at 8pm at The Playhouse, with tickets costing £20.
Northern Ireland Opera launched the Salon Series earlier in 2023 to great success, with sold-out performances in a number of unusual and intimate venues. The company said in a statement: “We can’t wait to share the series with wider audiences in two of Northern Ireland’s most exciting theatre venues.”
NIO is hoping to add further venues and dates throughout 2024. All details, along with tickets, are available from Northern Ireland Opera.
Poulenc’s La voix humaine, performed by Northern Irish soprano Mary McCabe, forms part of Northern Ireland Opera’s Salon Series.