Summer is on song as opera lovers soak up rays and arias

Fri, Aug 3, 2012, 01:00

IT WAS like being abroad, said Brigid Grennan from Drimnagh.

Standing in the amphitheatre at Dublin City Council’s Civic Offices yesterday as the elegant, Italian lyrics of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly floated through the sunshine, it was not quite La Scala but it was certainly a beautiful and enchanting venue for lunch.

An abridged performance of the 1904 opera was the first of five operas to be presented by the council this month, as part of its popular Opera in the Open programme, now in its 13th year.

All are scheduled to last just an hour. This also means patrons will not need to be familiar with the storyline to follow what is going on.

Among the 400 or so people in attendance yesterday were office workers, couples, mothers with children and city council workers on their lunch-breaks. Ms Grennan went every year, she said. “I love classical music and I love this place. It’s like being away when the sun is shining like this.”

Mark Allen, a general maintenance worker with the council, was one of several men in high-vis yellow jackets listening intently to the libretto. “I wouldn’t usually be into opera music but this is very good. It’s very enjoyable,” he said.

Bernadette Fahy was there with a friend and her four children aged six to 14, having travelled from Meath equipped with a picnic and a bottle of Italian red. “We have come every year for the past three years. It’s a great way to introduce the children to opera in a relaxed environment. They do a really good job. The setting is lovely and the singers are wonderful.”

Council arts officer Jim Doyle said it had always been council policy to provide “high-quality art and to make it accessible. The amphitheatre is a lovely spot so it’s also about maximising the use of a public amenity.”

The free performances will be held every Thursday lunchtime. Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky will be on August 9th, followed by Street Scene – An American Opera by Weill on August 16th, both at Civic Offices. Cosi Fan Tutti by Mozart will take place in Grand Canal Square at 1pm on August 23rd. Verdi’s Rigoletto will be at the Civic Offices on August 30th.