Irish National Opera Company closes down


THE NEW Irish National Opera Company whose formation was announced in 2009 has collapsed without presenting even a single production.

Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, whose department was overseeing and funding the project, has formally returned responsibility for opera policy and provision to the Arts Council. In the absence of a commitment on funding, the board of the national opera company has decided to wind the company up.

The Arts Council chairwoman Pat Moylan has said that the council “will be preparing an assessment for the Minister of the issues around the financing of opera to 2013 as he has requested.

“Opera has been an area of concern for the council for many years and we intend to consider a broad range of perspectives in developing a comprehensive assessment.”

It is not clear whether or not the Arts Council will be able to make provision in 2012 for the kind of work that Irish National Opera expected to be carrying out.

Both Wexford Festival Opera and Opera Theatre Company, which runs small-scale, countrywide tours, continue to be funded by the council.

But Opera Ireland, the Arts Council-funded company which had been presenting two annual seasons of full-scale opera in Dublin, ceased operating at the end of 2010 to make way for the new national company.

The disappearance of Irish National Opera, which had already advertised for and chosen its first general director, leaves opera provision in Ireland in a parlous state.

Dublin has long been a special case as a European capital city with neither an opera house nor a full season of opera productions. This year it has arrived at a situation where there is also going to be a complete absence of natively produced full-scale opera.

The only full-scale productions on the horizon are from Scottish Opera, presenting three performances of Verdi’s Rigoletto(from June 21st) and the Perm Tchaikovsky Opera, presenting five performances of Verdi’s La Traviata(from November 23rd), both at the Grand Canal Theatre.