NI Opera

Artistic Director Oliver Mears to leave Northern Ireland Opera to join Royal Opera House

Northern Ireland Opera announced today that its Artistic Director, Oliver Mears, will step down from his current role in order to take up the post of Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in February 2017. He will succeed current ROH Director of Opera, Kasper Holten.

As the founding Artistic Director of Northern Ireland Opera, since 2010 Mears has built up the company with a focus on excellence, local talent, innovation, and ambitious local and international partnerships. Under his leadership, the company has performed across Northern Ireland as well as in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, and China, as well as forming co-productions with companies in the UK, Germany and France. A champion of Northern Ireland and Irish composers, the Company has from its foundation been determined to offer access to opera for all, and most particularly to those individuals and communities with no previous experience of the art form.

A hugely successful programme of community engagement, working with local Councils, schools and other organisations, has brought many people to opera for the first time. The annual Festival of Voice in Glenarm, Co. Antrim, offers selected young Irish singers the opportunity to work with some of the leading professionals in the opera world, and the company also initiated the first Young Artists Programme which attracts applicants from throughout Ireland.

Productions under his tenure have included the award-winning Tosca in Derry-Londonderry, The Flying Dutchman (nominated for a Theatre UK Achievement in Opera Award 2013), Salome, Macbeth (with Welsh National Opera), The Importance of Being Earnest, Turandot, Agrippina (Winner Best Production, Dublin Theatre Fringe Festival Awards 2015), Hansel and Gretel, and L’Elisir D’Amore. His 2012 production of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, originally produced in Belfast Zoo, travelled to Beijing and Shanghai Festivals in 2013 while the company’s version of The Turn of the Screw won critical acclaim on its appearances at the Buxton Festival and at Novaya Opera, Moscow.

Announcing his departure, Mears said: ‘It has been an incredible six years with Northern Ireland Opera, years which I will never forget. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for believing so whole-heartedly in the project of creating a national opera company, the Northern Ireland Opera Chairman, Roy Bailie, and his board for their wonderful and unstinting support, and of course the amazing staff, singers, designers, crew, collaborators and partners – especially the Ulster Orchestra and the Grand Opera House – who have all played such an important role in our success. I have no doubt that the company will go from strength to strength in the coming years, and look forward to following its continued progress.’

Roy Bailie, Chairman of the Northern Ireland Opera board, said: ‘We are very sad to see Oliver’s departure: it has been wonderful to see the dedication, energy and imagination which he and his brilliant team have brought to the task of making the creation and work of a national company a success. On the other hand, we are thrilled that he will be moving to such a prestigious position at the Royal Opera House. The task now begins to find a successor who will continue the work that we have achieved so far. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their continued support for our mission to provide the best possible opera to the widest possible audience across Northern Ireland and beyond.’

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: ‘The Arts Council is delighted at Oliver’s appointment and we wish him the very best for what will no doubt be a bright future. The success of Northern Ireland Opera over the past six years shows just what we can achieve for the arts in Northern Ireland with a combination of funding, talent and ambition. The international quality and scope of Northern Ireland Opera’s work is testament to the potential of the whole sector here.’

Before his departure Mears will oversee the first two productions in the 2016-17 Season: a new production of Don Giovanni at the Grand Opera House Belfast and the Irish premiere of Powder Her Face at the Lyric Theatre in January. The season will then continue with a concert of La Bohème with the Ulster Orchestra and an Ireland-wide tour of Handel’s Radamisto.

Please direct all enquiries to: Steven Hadley, Projects Director, Northern Ireland Opera on or 07801720351.

Don Giovanni
Directed by Oliver Mears
18 – 19 Nov 2016
Grand Opera House Belfast

Powder Her Face
Directed by Antony McDonald
27 – 29 Jan 2017
Lyric Theatre Belfast

Glens of Antrim Singing Explorers

Building on the incredible success of our Pilot Programme in August 2015, Northern Ireland Opera is delighted that Glens of Antrim Singing Explorers will again be a part of the Glenarm Festival of Voice 15th-19th, and 27th August 2016. The children will take part in an exciting programme of musicianship, games and choral singing, and perform in concert alongside singers from the Northern Ireland Opera Opera Young Artists Programme 2016.

Singing Explorers is for you if…

You are aged between 6 and 11, you love music, singing, playing games and making new friends!

Where, when, and how much does it cost?

Rehearsals/Classes: Monday 15th – Friday 19th August, 9.30 -12.00, St John’s Primary School, 49 Bay Road, Carnlough, Ballymena, BT44 0HJ.
Northern Ireland Opera Glenarm Festival of Voice Finale Concert: Saturday 27th August, 10am – 2pm Glenarm.
It is compulsory that children attend all rehearsals if they wish to perform in the Finale Concert.
The cost to attend Singing Explorers is £15 per child for all activities.

What can I expect?

Every morning you will take part in music and movement classes and then sing together in the fantastic Singing Explorers Choir. Classes are based around the Kodály method of music education. You will learn about pitch, beat, rhythm and harmony through singing games and rounds. During choir rehearsals you will learn lots of brilliant new songs, how to sing beautifully in unison and in harmony, how to work hard and perform together as a musical group, making a wonderful sound.

What happens at the Concert?

The concert will take place as part of the programme for NI Opera’s 2016 Glenarm Festival of Voice. The children will perform in concert alongside Singers from NI Opera’s Young Artists Programme.

For more information, and to apply, go to:

For more details about this year’s Festival of Voice, go to

Festival of Voice 2016 – Internship Opportunity

Glenarm, Co. Antrim
Monday 22nd – Sunday 28th August

We are looking for an enthusiastic team player to assist with the delivery of this year’s Festival of Voice in the historic coastal village of Glenarm.

This internship will involve work both at the Northern Ireland Opera office at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, as well as in Glenarm, with duties to include event support and front of house duties.

This internship will include travel in Belfast, and travel, accommodation and meals in Glenarm. To apply, please send through a CV and cover letter stating your interest in the internship to Clíona Donnelly, General Manager, at by Friday 5th August.

For further details please contact the Northern Ireland Opera office on 028 9027 7734.

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