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Meet our Staff, Board Members, and Patron.


Walter Sutcliffe

A graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, London, and former Staff Director at Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Düsseldorf, Walter Sutcliffe has extensive opera and theatre experience, and has directed critically-acclaimed productions which have been seen in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, France and Estonia.

As stage director, Walter has been a regular guest at the Oper Frankfurt, and has directed productions for Teatro Regio di Torino, Semperoper Dresden, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, Theater Magdeburg, Theater Chemnitz, Di Capo Opera, New York (where he directed the American stage premiere of Leoš Janáček’s first opera, Sarka), Klangbogen Festival, Vienna (where he directed the Austrian premiere of Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden), and the Royal Academy of Music, London, amongst many others. Debuts at Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires are also planned.



Clíona Donnelly

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 Northern Ireland Opera team in March 2011. Clíona is a trustee of the Board of the St. Anne’s Trust and the Belfast Philharmonic Society.

Clíona was awarded a British Empire Medal in June 2018 for services to music and young people in Northern Ireland.


Judith Wiemers

Judith is currently completing a PhD in Musicology at Queen’s University Belfast, where she is funded by the AHRC. She has previously worked in dramaturgy at Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Hannover and for the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. She has published articles and chapters on humour in operetta film and early German musical theatre among others. At Queen’s, she has taught on French baroque opera and Music and Politics.


Julia O'Hara

Julia read English at Cambridge University and spent more than a decade working in book publishing in London specializing in marketing and rights at Macmillan, Virgin Books and Phaidon. Since moving to Belfast, Julia has worked in the property industry in marketing and business development before joining NI Opera.


Lynda Thompson-Spack

Lynda began performing in NI at a young age with Patricia Mulholland’s Irish Ballet Company. After completing a BA in Performing Arts at Middlesex University she moved into arts administration and funding, working as an Arts Officer for a London borough, then for the Arts Council of England and the UK Film Council. She subsequently worked in film PR, ran an ethical clothing company and has her own jewellery brand, ‘Fred Loves Ginger’.


Roy Bailie OBE Chairman

Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE Vice-Chairman

James Hunt

Ken Lindsay

Stephen Kingon CBE

Professor Dolores O’Reilly

Jane Wells

Richard McBride


Sean Rafferty

Sean Rafferty 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.