Casting a youthful look at Handel’s Agrippina

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Maire Flavin in Irish Youth Opera's new production of Handel's Agrippina, which opens in the Lime Tree this September. Picture: Fran Marshall
A BRAVE new world of artistic cross-collaboration, encouraged by an Arts Council cutting its cloth to measure, has given rise to an exciting new professional opera production premiering in the Lime Tree.

A BRAVE new world of artistic cross-collaboration, encouraged by an Arts Council cutting its cloth to measure, has given rise to an exciting new professional opera production premiering in the Lime Tree.

The Irish Youth Opera’s (IYO) staging of Handel’s Agrippina features a coming together of the company - one that provides a professional platform for Irish artists on the threshold or in the midst of their careers - with NI Opera, the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Lime Tree itself, all in the spirit of collaboration fostered by the Arts Council’s Opera Production Award.

The results are set to be stunning for a company that made its debut last year with successful touring production of The Rape of Lucretia. Transposing Handel’s opera to the modern day, sung in English, with a tale of passion, murder and the desire for power - this has all the ingredients of a winning formula.

“Handel wasn’t averse to borrowing a bit from here and there and putting it all together,” says Colette McGahon, director of the IYO.

“Yesterday we were working on some bits that needed to be rewritten and we had to cut bits out and shove bits in and the conductor, who is an expert in the field, said to me that this is exactly what it was like when Handel was actually writing it himself.

“It is actually a fun story, set in a relatively modern time. There is serious music and some very, very beautiful music in the opera and then you have enough fun moments to keep it bubbling along.”

The cast features Máire Flavin as Agrippina, with NI Opera’s Artistic Director Oliver Mears and acclaimed Irish designer Annemarie Woods drizzling their magic on the production, with music from the ICO.

IYO was founded by Ms McGahon and Limerick opera singers Suzanne Murphy and Paul McNamara, so it is fitting that it take place here.

“It is a very good idea to share the responsibility and also to take people in who have expertise in particular areas - that is so important rather than trying to go along. The Lime Tree is such a beautiful space to be coming into, so that is a very happy collaboration.”