My review of Clonmel Junction Festival's production of Orfeo and Eurydice is in yesterday's Irish Examiner. Aside at all from the splendid musical strengths, this was a production that could be proud of it's Tipperary input. It had an exotic international element in the extraordinary counter tenor Roland Schneider and Austrian conductor, Elizabeth Attl. You can hear Attl talking about the festival production in the video below. But this was a production firmly rooted in the commissioning region. Local involvement is a cornerstone of the Junction Festival which includes a participation consultant on it's team list. The Clonmel Orfeo was an excellent vehicle for local choristers and showcased one of the impressive rising professional stars from the county in Jennifer Davis.
Local involvement was lamentably limited in a recent opera project in the South East. Theatre Royal Productions crowd funding campaign to 'Adopt a Soprano' highlighted the fact that not one local singer was engaged after the initial workshop and funding campaign stage. Moreover, it seems production team, cast, the musicians, even the sets were sourced outside the region for their recent production of The Invader, a new work by Eric Sweeney and Mark Roper. With the exception of choreographer Libby Seward, there was no local participation once the production moved beyond the initial workshop pilot phase. Whatever about the undisputed merits of the work and I thought it was a super piece (my review is here), I feel that this is not as it should be in a county with a third level music degree, a strong choral and theatre tradition for a production in receipt of significant civic funding.
Next year's project in Clonmel, is a setting of work by poet Michael Coady from Carrick on Suir (Coady contributed programme notes for Orfeo). As part of the the participation programme, the festival choir usually invite experienced choristers to join them for a week of rehearsals in advance of the performance. So if you fancy a week of choral, singing in Tipperary bear it mind for next year. Based on Friday night's experience, that looks a very attractive proposition. Link to choral project information
ps I met Catherine McGuiness recently, the distinguished Senator, when she was a guest speaker at the Waterford 1100 talks. During the Q&A she quoted choral singing as her favourite pastime and is a committed member of the Culwick Choral Society.
Review of Cork Operatic Soc Orpheus http://cathydesmond.blogspot.ie/2013/09/everyman-orpheus.html
(My piece on Clonmel native Kelley Lonergan is here )