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Northern Ireland Opera launches its inaugural season

18 October 2010, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Oliver Mears, NI Opera’s new artistic director
Oliver Mears, NI Opera’s new artistic director

With the appointment of its first artistic director, Oliver Mears, Northern Ireland Opera has announced the newly created company’s inaugural season.

NI Opera was established in January by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) following recommendations in a report commissioned by the funding body in 2008 to examine opera provision in the region.

Its findings prompted the withdrawal of Arts Council funding from the summer season Castleward Opera company in its 25th anniversary year, and the Opera Fringe Festival, which had been operating in Downpatrick since 2003, resulting in the controversial closure of both ventures.

Northern Ireland Opera has been allocated funds of £374,000 by ACNI for its first year of operations.

Currently artistic director of Second Movement Opera, a cutting-edge young company working in the UK, Mears was appointed in June and has pledged to support the development of a national cultural resource: "This will be a company with a genuinely Northern Ireland-wide reach and one which, moreover, will make a determined effort to discover the finest young talent from Northern Ireland, as well as performing in some of its iconic spaces and locations."

The company will make its debut in December with a Christmas concert featuring Camerata Ireland and young Northern Irish singers. Its first full staging will be a site-specific production of Tosca at different locations around Derry’s historic fortified walls in March 2011. A ‘Summer of Song’ festival, a co-production with Scottish Opera touring throughout Northern Ireland and a staging of Hansel and Gretel in Belfast's Grand Opera House will also form part of the company’s 2011 programme.


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