The premieres of two new Irish operas, by Marian Ingoldsby and Ian Wilson, take place in 2003. This is particularly important in the context of the current debate on the future of opera in Ireland sparked by the report, Towards a Policy and Action Plan for Opera, commissioned by the Arts Council from Pamela Smith (a downloadable copy of the report is available from the Arts Council's web site) it is good to be able to report on the premieres of two new Irish operas. Waterford's Garter Lane Arts Centre was the venue for the premiere in January of Marian Ingoldsby's opera Lily's Labyrinth, based on a libretto by Ben Hennessy with characters from nursery rhymes, children's stories, and folk-tales and myths. Funded by the Arts Council's commissioning scheme, the work requires a large number of participants and is intended for performance by schools without in any way 'talking down' to them or compromising the composer's style of writing.
Ian Wilson's first opera, Hamelin, is receiving two productions this year, one in Germany and one in Ireland. The libretto, on an original idea, is by the English poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw and the translation for the German production is by Raphael Urweider. The Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landestheater in Flensburg, north Germany, will give eight performances of Hamelin in three theatres in the area (Flensburg, Schleswig and Rendsburg) over a three-month period commencing with a premiere on 14 March. Opera Theatre Company will tour the English language version in May with four or five performances around Ireland. The opera is in two acts with a duration of about 90 minutes and is scored for soprano, tenor, bass and an ensemble of seven instruments. The subject revolves around how myths are made and takes in ideas of survival, denial and isolation.