The Nightingale and the Rose: Labour of love to bring this Wilde opera to life

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

The Nightingale and The Rose is in the Lime Tree this Saturday

The Nightingale and The Rose is in the Lime Tree this Saturday

A STORY filled with beauty, love, music and tragedy makes for the ideal opera - even if it started life as a short story.

A brand new opera by John O’Brien, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s timeless story, The Nightingale and the Rose, comes to the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick this Saturday after premiering at the Everyman Theatre in Cork recently.

O’Brien, who adapted the tale of unrequited love, radical transformation and extraordinary sacrifice, admits that putting your own creation out there for the world to view is “terrifying as a writer”.

It is one he composed and directed and co-wrote the libretto - essentially the script - with Éadaoin O’Donoghue after reading the Wilde short many moons ago.

“I read the story when I was a teenager and loved it and it was always in the back of my head and then I forget about it for years,” he says.

“About four or five years ago, it came back into my head as a subject to write an opera about, because of the way the words work and it is so beautiful and it is about singing, and music and beauty and tragedy and all those things which are really operatic.”

After “a long road to get to this point”, The Nightingale and The Rose premiered to great acclaim at the Everyman. O’Brien says he aimed to make something that “accessible but not patronising”.

“It is set in this magical garden, so there is a whole world of dancers and musicians and actors and singers - they are all playing all sorts of magical creatures, so it allows you to do a big garden of earthly delights,” he says.

“The whole thing is full of colour and movement and whimsy - as well as the tragic, sad bits.

“This is all about beauty and fun and warmth and love, all of those things, and it is a piece about emotion, rather than intellect. There is a lot of intellect and thought behind it and all of that is there for people who like that and want to read into it and what the symbolism is. But equally it is also supposed to be entertaining and lovely and fun and it should be for the heart.

“The best thing is to be there and just open your heart to it and your imagination and allow it to take you off on a journey.”

- The Nightingale and The Rose is in the Lime Tree this Saturday. See www.limetreetheatre.ie for more