Irish National Opera goes for the big time; Gavin Bryars performs at his own birthday party

Classical music highlights for the coming week


Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin 7.30pm €15, €36, €51, €66, €86; also Tues, Thurs, Sat, Dec 1st
Irish National Opera is going for the big time, at least as far as scale is concerned. The company, which presented its first production – o f Thomas Adès's chamber opera Powder Her Face – last February, is offering Verdi's Aida at Dublin's Bord Gáis Energy Theatre as its last offering of 2018. Aida, with a chorus of 60, offstage bands, and an expanded RTÉ Concert Orchestra in the pit, will draw together a force of 140 performers.

Dublin soprano Orla Boylan sings the title role, with Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones as her lover Radamès and mezzo soprano Imelda Drumm as her rival, Amneris. Michael Barker Caven directs, the designs are by Joe Vanek, and INO's artistic director, Fergus Sheil, conducts. The company has just announced its offerings for the first six months of 2019, which run to a tour of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice with Sharon Carty as Orfeo, Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Celine Byrne in the title role, Mozart's The Magic Flute with some double casting that includes Anna Devin and Jennifer Davis as Pamina, Nick Pritchard and Tyler Nelson as Tamino, and Kim Sheehan and Audrey Luna as the Queen of the Night. Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh's The Second Violinist goes to Amsterdam and there's also This Hostel Life, Evangelia Rigaki and Melatu Uche Okorie's new installation opera exploring the plight of migrant women in Irish direct provision centres.


NCH, Dublin 8pm €20-€30
He just can't escape them. Gavin Bryars's biggest hits, the atmospheric The Sinking of the Titanic and the haunting Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, go with him wherever he goes. They're with him for his 75th birthday concert at the National Concert Hall, along with a clutch of later works, Winestead, The North Shore and The Flower of Friendship. Unlike Beethoven – who came to hate his Septet, Op. 20, because of the way its popularity kept later and better works in the shadows – Bryars seems comfortable that two of his early works have, in the popular imagination, eclipsed everything else he has written since. Of course, he does get to play in them (he's a double bassist as well as a composer), so he earns on the double every time he's involved in them with his Gavin Bryars Ensemble, as in his birthday appearance in Dublin.


Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street, Dublin 8pm €30/€25; also Fri, Wexford; Sat, Sligo
Tre Voci is the name Music Network has given to the three-concert tour by the juicy trio of Claire Booth (soprano), Natalie Clein (cello) and Julius Drake (piano), all best-known in Ireland as visitors to the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, although Clein's most recent Irish appearance was at the Westport Chamber Music Festival. Their Music Network programme uses works by Kodály, Bach, Cage, Tavener, Brahms, Deborah Pritchard, Janacek and Schubert to explore "themes of nature, separated lovers, grief and spirituality".