Celebrations to give ‘new life’ to a Limerick operatic icon

Catherine Hayes, the Limerick-born soprano who rose to international fame in the mid-1800s

Catherine Hayes, the Limerick-born soprano who rose to international fame in the mid-1800s

A SERIES of events are to take place in November to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Catherine Hayes, the Limerick-born soprano who rose to international fame in the mid-1800s.

Hayes, who was born on Patrick Street and is the inspiration for the naming of the Opera Centre development, will be celebrated with a gala concert, an exhibition on her life and career and a video-installation that will be projected onto the facade of her birthplace.

The events are being led by the Hunt Museum and supported by Limerick Arts Office and Limerick City and County Council.

Hunt director Jill Cousins said the famed soprano’s name was “synonymous with Limerick. She travelled the world as an internationally recognised soprano but she has all but disappeared from Limerick’s known heritage,” Ms Cousins explained.

“She sang in the European Opera Houses of La Scala, Milan, Covent Garden, London contributing to the culture of Europe, and was a contemporary of Jenny Lind, but unlike Lind has not retained that worldwide recognition. It is therefore particularly fitting that the 200th anniversary of her birth in November is connected to the European Year of Cultural Heritage.”

“Reintroducing the Catherine Hayes story will give her deserved recognition in her hometown. Her story will surprise, fascinate, educate and stir debate. The video-installation will also be made available online enticing new international audiences. The mixed offering of music, exhibitions and video gives new life to this Limerick icon and her world influence,” Cousins said.

The gala concert will take place at St Mary’s Cathedral on November 8 and feature soprano Sarah Dolan, tenor Patrick Hyland and the Voices of Limerick choir and orchestra under the baton of Sinead Hayes.

Speaking at the launch Sarah Dolan said: “Opera has much wider appeal than the elite that attend concerts, proven by Catherine herself who played to California Miners and has a namesake street in Grass Valley in California. This concert aims to reintroduce the Catherine Hayes story will give her deserved recognition in her hometown. Her story will surprise, fascinate, educate and stir debate”.

“The mixed offering of music, exhibitions and video over the course of these 200th anniversary celebrations will take opera onto the streets and allow people from very different backgrounds to engage with a Limerick icon and her world influence”, she said.

Full details at www.huntmuseum.ie and tickets can be purchased via www.dolans.ie, by contacting the Dolan's box office or at the Hunt Museum.