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Looking for a sound investment? Adopt a soprano

If you’re not the committed type, you could just shift one for €100.

Armenian tenor Telman Guzhevsky, aka The Invader (Your soprano may or may not look like this.)
Armenian tenor Telman Guzhevsky, aka The Invader (Your soprano may or may not look like this.)
Image: c/o Telman Guzhevsky

THE THEATRE ROYAL in Waterford is offering the public the chance to adopt a soprano – for a limited time only.

Sadly, you can’t bring them home so they can repeatedly regale you with Pie Jesu.

Instead they’ll be setting up shop at the theatre to perform in the first Irish opera to premiere at the venue in more than 200 years.

The organisation is seeking to raise €10,000 on FundIt by next Wednesday to help produce The Invader.

Adopting a soprano will set you back €1,000. However, if you’re not in the market for that kind of commitment, you could ‘shift’ a soprano for €100, ‘heart’ one for €50, or just give them a tenor. (We’ll stop now.)

‘Last Minute Society’

Rebecca Reynolds, the opera’s press officer, said that the production team needed to provide a financial “cushion” due to the “niche” nature of the project.

The total production cost will be €203,000. The theatre has received €133,000 from the Arts Council and €25,000 from Waterford City Council. The remainder of the money will be made through fundraising, sponsorship and ticket sales.

“Even though we have received substantial funding from the Arts Council and Waterford City Council, even though we’ve held private fundraisers previously, and even though we shaved [costs] down about as much as we can, we knew that we would be about €10,000 short,” Reynolds commented.

With a few days to go, and almost €5,000 pledged so far, she’s confident their target will be met.

We live in a last minute society, everyone gets on board at the last minute.

If the group doesn’t reach their goal, they won’t receive any of the funding.

Reynolds said that by approaching fundraising in a novel way, the group hopes to reach more young people than they would otherwise.

The demographic [of opera audiences] is a little bit older. Unless people are working in arts and culture then it’s generally not something they would come across.

Reynolds described The Invader as “avant garde” and “quite edgy”.

The last Irish opera to premiere at the Theatre Royal was The Siege of Water in 1792.

‘Less interest’

Reynolds noted that of the six operas funded by the Arts Council this year, The Invader was the only Irish production.

She said there is “less interest” in the art form in Ireland than other counties.

If you go to Europe opera is not as niche as it is in this country, it’s also more accessible from a price point of view … A wider cultural question needs to be asked on that one.

Rehearsals for the show will begin on Monday. The opera will be performed in Waterford on 23 and 24 May and at Wexford Opera House on 30 May.

Reynolds said the cast and crew are hoping the production will go on to tour internationally.

The Invader is inspired by The Bacchae, a tragedy by Greek playwright Euripides. It was devised by composer Eric Sweeney and poet Mark Roper and will be directed by Ben Barnes.

The cast includes Irish and international talent and an orchestra led by RTÉ ConTempo Quartet. Armenian tenor Telman Guzhevsky will play the title role.

The opera is part of a series of events being held to mark the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Waterford city.

Read: Artists receive over €3 million in bursaries over the past three years

Read: Internationally renowned Wexford Festival Opera attracts ‘heartening endorsement’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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