"Nudging the door open with his knee he carried the tray in and set it on the chair by the bedhead.
— What a time you were, she said.
She set the brasses jingling as she raised herself briskly, an elbow on the pillow. He looked calmly down on her bulk and between her large soft bubs, sloping within her nightdress like a shegoat's udder. The warmth of her couched body rose on the air, mingling with the fragrance of the tea she poured.
A strip of torn envelope peeped from under the dimpled pillow. In the act of going he stayed to straighten the bedspread.
— Who was the letter from? he asked.
Bold hand. Marion.
— O, Boylan, she said. He's bringing the programme.
— What are you singing?
— Là ci darem with J. C. Doyle, she said, and Love's Old Sweet Song."
And so, I sang as Molly Bloom on Sandymount Green, and the audience joined in for the chorus of Love's Old Sweet Song. I love this book, and love the idea of Bloomsday - a whole city celebrating a wonderful work of literature.
Heartfelt thanks to Dublin City Council for asking me to take part.
"... and yes I said yes I will Yes!"
One week to go!
Joining the OTC Opera Hub team once more, I will be working with three amazing composers - Elis Czerniak, Sinéad Finegan and Norah Walsh - as we bring to life the story of Iseult, Irish princess and lover of Tristan in a pop-up opera for the Contemporary Music Centre's Culture Night celebrations on September 22nd 2017!
The words of so many great artists - James Joyce to Richard Wagner, Lady Jane Wilde to Thomas Hardy - who have told her story inspire us as we get underway. The composers are already hard at work and the devising & dramaturgy kicks in on Monday. The CMC will host our world premiere in their beautiful Georgian building on Fishamble Street and later that evening we mosey along to Dublin City Council's outdoor amphitheatre to cater to even greater audiences.
My sincere thanks to the Contemporary Music Centre and OTC Opera Hub for creating a space in which we artists and musicians can be bold and bring our art to the public, only a few steps from Iseult's Tower and Handel's former stomping grounds.
OTC OperaHub Showcase
Hot on the heels of my first work with OTC back in June with The 24hr Opera, I am delighted to be singing under the OTC OperaHub banner once again.
OTC Opera Hub will be providing it's artists with the platform to collaborate, workshop and present their choice of arias, duets, ensembles or scenes from both classic & contemporary operatic repertoire. The Showcase will be an informal evening with an eclectic programme including works in progress in the Studio Space of the National Concert Hall.
The Golden Plec gives a shout-out to our wonderful showcase on August 16th 2017.
The 24hr Opera
I could hardly have invented a more fitting opportunity to put all that I had learned about devising and creating work from scratch during my time as an ENO Opera Works artist than the wonderful and batty 24hr Opera, my first gig with OTC on their OperaHub programme.
I was barely back from my last devised work in London where we had created a 30 minute piece in about three days when I hopped on board this crazy project with fellow singers Sarah Shine (soprano) and Andrew Gavin (tenor). We were to watch composers Robbie Blake, David Coonan, Anna Murray and Teodor Iuliu Radu create an opera in about 8 hours, along with our librettist-cast member Fionnuala Gygax and director Zoe Ní Ríordáin.
Having worked through the night, we singers turned up bright-eyed (or bleary-eyed) to be put through our paces by our fabulous conductor Eoghan Desmond. What followed was an insane blur of staging, learning, running & hiding that culminated in a performance to a full house and just the warmest reception we could have hoped for. Everyone should do a 24hr Opera once in their lives - nothing quite like it to get rid of the cobwebs. Me, I'd do one a year if I was let!
Brahms Chamber Music
Really looking forward to Friday evening's concert where I will be performing Brahms' Zwei Gesänge Op. 91 with Ksenia Walsh and Mercedes Trinchero as well as the fabulous Liebeslieder-Waltzer Op.52. Brahms music is so sumptuous, so luxurious. It's a real treat for us to perform such a beautiful programme!
A Première fit for a Prince
I have very fond memories of working on Long Story Short: the Belfast Opera in June 2016. I am deeply grateful to director Conor Hanratty, conductor David Brophy and composer Neil Martin for taking a chance on an emerging artist for one of the principal roles in this groundbreaking community-inspired opera.
So it's no surprise then, that when I get a call in April from Mr. Martin to see if I'd take part in his newest project, I said yes before he'd even finished the pitch! And what a pitch it was. Neil Martin had received a commission from HRH the Prince of Wales to compose a song cycle, Song After Rain, in English, Irish and Ulster Scots. Nothing as obvious as asking me to sing the Irish bit, mind you. No, the mezzo role was the Ulster Scots section - a beautiful and lively passage about a cheeky blackbird shirking his singing duties in the woodland chorus, from an 18th Century text.
The music, as always, was gorgeous, but it took a little while to get my head around the language. I spoke to people who had sung Robert Burns texts (thanks Arthur Bruce!) and went back and forth to make sure I got it right. Not that I would ever leave diction to chance, but I am glad I had taken the time. HRH is quite the expert on Doric dialects, as he explained to me at the reception in Hillsborough House.
This was a simply glorious gig: working to premiere music by a composer I admire; getting to explore a new language to sing in and meeting their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. I am indebted to Neil Martin and the Lord Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay O'Boyle for asking me to take part in this occasion. I wan't forget this one!
Dispatches - at ENO Baylis
6 months of intensive training in stagecraft for opera singers - cramming decades of acting theory into a string of weekends. The result - a wonderfully dark and visually striking devised performance that brought over 300 years of opera into the night shift of an anonymous warehouse populated by bleary-eyed, zero-hour contract workers haunted by the watchful gaze of their invisible superiors.