NI Opera, based at Belfast’s historic Grand Opera House, has a mission to provide the highest-quality opera to the widest possible audience. With a philosophy of excellence and risk-taking underpinned by an imaginative programming policy and first-rate casting, NI Opera is committed to opera as a unique art form.
By keeping ticket-prices affordable, and through the regular (but not exclusive) use of English in performances, we are committed to widening the audience for opera: everyone will be welcome to our productions, from young to old, rich to poor, and from traditional opera-goers to those who have never seen an opera in their life before.
NI Opera aims to promote the best of Northern Irish talent, engaging with local communities and young people, collaborating with other Northern Ireland arts organisations, and using some of the province’s most iconic spaces for its performances.
NI Opera would like to thank all of its supporters, partners and collaborators, but particular thanks goes to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for its continuing support and guidance.
Sean Rafferty, Patron of NI Opera, was born in Belfast and brought up in Newcastle, Co. Down. He studied law at Queen's University. Belfast, and soon after began his career in broadcasting. Sean is a respected arts broadcaster, having presented a variety of radio and television programmes on BBC Radio 3, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC Radio Ulster. Since 1997 Sean has been the regular presenter of In Tune on Radio 3.
Meet the team
Oliver Mears, Artistic Director
Oliver read English and History at Oxford, and began his career assisting playwright Howard Barker, before going on to work
at the Kings Head, Islington (directing productions of Judith, Creditors and The Lesson), and in opera, working on productions in London (ENO, ROH), Leeds, Milan, Copenhagen, Tokyo, and Basel.
As Artistic Director of Second Movement Opera, Oliver directed many site-specific opera productions in London, including works by Mozart, Bernstein, Rimsky-Korsakov, Shostakovich/ Fleischmann, Barber, the world premiere of Stefan Weisman’s opera Fade, and a Czech Republic tour of Martinu’s The Knife’s Tears.
He has also directed a prison project with lifers, Sweeney Todd (HMP Kingston/Pimlico Opera), La Calisto (Early Opera Company), Hansel and Gretel (Opera North), the National Opera Studio Showcase
2010, The Bear (National Reisopera, Holland), My Brother’s Keeper (Edinburgh /Pleasance), Albert Herring (Aldeburgh) and David Almond’s critically-acclaimed play My Dad’s a Birdman, with original music by Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (Young Vic).
In 2012 he was nominated for an ‘Achievement in Opera’ award by the TMA Awards for his leadership of NI Opera, and he was also nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ in the 2013 Opera Awards..
Clíona Donnelly, General Manager
Clíona studied History at Queen’s University, Belfast, and then completed a MSC in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the University of Ulster. She previously worked for the Dublin Business School and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin before moving back to Belfast to join the NI Opera team in March 2011.
Simon Goldrick, Marketing & Communications Director
After graduating from Oxford University with a degree in Theology, Simon joined the Post Office as a graduate trainee and Communications Manager, before moving to Glaxo Wellcome (now GlaxoSmithKline) in 1997. Three years later he joined Unilever, and over the next 10 years held a number of senior international corporate affairs, marketing and PR positions, before joining NI Opera in 2011.
In addition to his role with NI Opera, Simon is on the Board of the National Association for Gallery Education.
Rachel Clarke, Financial and Artistic Administrator
A Music graduate from the University of Ulster, Rachel joined NI Opera in October 2013, having previously worked for the UK City of Culture 2013 in Derry~Londonderry as part of the Music Promise team.
The NI Opera Board
Roy Bailie OBE, Chairman
Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Vice-Chairman
Professor Dolores O'Reilly
If there’s anything more you want to know about the company or if you have any questions about the 2012 / 2013 season, please do get in touch. You can call us on +44 (0)28 9027 7734, or send us an email at info.niopera.com.