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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

This opera is bringing the stories behind Ireland's direct provision system to life

The opera is based on a book which tells the stories of migrant women living in direct provision in Ireland.

This Hostel Life's logo
This Hostel Life's logo
Image: Irish National Opera

STORIES FROM IRELAND’S direct provision system are set to be brought to life through a new experimental opera experience later this year.

Dublin-based Greek composer Evangelia Rigaki and writer Melatu Uche Okorie have teamed up to create This Hostel Life, an installation opera based on stories the Nigerian writer wrote when she was living in direction provision.

The book tells the stories of migrant women living in direct provision in Ireland – from a day in the life of women queuing for basic supplies in a hostel to a black woman’s experience of everyday racism in Ireland.

These stories will be told through the opera which will be performed at The Crypt in Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin this coming September.

Working together, Rigaki and Okorie have highlighted a number of key paragraphs from the book that central themes of the stories.

Speaking to, Irish National Opera’s artistic director Fergus Sheil explained that Rigaki is going to “take the texts and turn them into what we’re calling an installation opera”.

So, what is an installation opera?

“It’s going to be a bit like you’re going to an arts exhibition,” Sheil said.

When you go into Christchurch, it’s in the Crypt, which is a fantastic location and somewhere that I’ve been dying to some something because it has all these arches and little nooks and crannies and different places.

There will be five different groups of musicians located in separate areas of The Crypt. Four of them will be one singer and an instrument and the fifth will be a choir.

“The idea is that you walk into the space and you go to any of these five points. We’re going to have the text, probably, projected onto a wall so you can read and listen to the text,” Sheil said.

It’s like you can wander around like an art exhibition where you go from painting to painting. You can around this in any direction you like, it’s not like you have to start at the beginning and go to the end, you can create your own route.

Each installation will be performed in a loop throughout the events.

Irish National Opera, the company behind the production, launched last year.

“This is very experimental,” Sheil said, speaking of This Hostel Life.

“It’s not unusual in an international context that we’re looking at stories like this but I don’t think it’s been done much in Ireland.”

When asked why Irish National Opera decided to take on this opera, Sheil said that “we want to do things that are relevant to society now and have something to say about our life in Ireland today”.

This Hostel Life will run in The Crypt in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin on 26 and 28 September. Tickets cost €10 to €15 and are available to buy here.

“If people are curious and have an open mind about performance art, literature, opera, any of those things … you can pop in, you can stay for five minutes, you can stay for two hours. I hope it’ll have a very welcoming attitude,” Sheil said.

“It’s quite experimental, so you’ll have to approach it from the point of view of ‘I really don’t know what this is going to be but it’s maybe about a subject matter that I’m interested in’.”

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