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When passion, youth and infinite potential come together and burn too brightly,

there comes a day when a price must be paid.

In the cold hard light of day the warm flame of life can be cruelly snuffed out at any time.

Northern Ireland Opera announces the return of live opera performances with a unique and exhilarating new production of Puccini’s La Bohème this September. The staging of one of the most loved and timeless masterpieces in the operatic canon marks Cameron Menzies’ first production in front of live audiences since he joined Northern Ireland Opera as Artistic Director midway through the pandemic in February this year.

This bold new interpretation will be brought to life inside the iconic Carlisle Memorial Church in Belfast across four evenings. A historic focal point in the city, this beautifully decayed church provides the perfect atmospheric backdrop to tell the story about a group of Bohemians who are all searching and desperately trying to find their way in life and love.

Cameron says: “The themes of youthful hope, the pursuit of connection, love and the very real and human desire for relationships, paired with some of the most stunning composition in the history of opera, seems to be what our audiences need right now both in terms of relevance and potency.”

Of the venue Cameron adds: “We are so fortunate to be able to create this new socially-distanced production inside a building that has had a rather varied and bohemian existence of its own. I already feel that the power of the building and how it stands in its own slightly broken and faded beauty is the absolute perfect grasp to safely and lovingly hold this opera.”

La Bohème is part of a surprising and varied launch programme selected by Cameron for 2021/22 and will lead Northern Ireland Opera into an exciting new era under his artistic direction. Cameron’s award-winning career spans the worlds of opera, theatre, music theatre, cabaret and film-making.

Top row L-R Noah Stewart (Rodolfo), Gemma Summerfield (Mimi) Yuriy Yurchuk (Marcello), Emma Morwood (Musetta). Second row L-R Graeme Danby, (Benoît /Alcindoro) Edmund Danon (Colline), Owen Lucas (Parpignol), Aaron O’Hare, (Schaunard)

La Bohème will be performed live in front of socially distanced audiences across 4 nights. It will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Dates: September 18, 20, 23, 25. 

Venue: Carlisle Memorial Church, 31 Carlisle Circus, Belfast BT14 6AT

Press enquiries to Diana Whitehead: diana@fourthwallpr.co.uk, Tel: 07939 149887

All ticket bookers will be contacted in advance of their chosen performance with details about the Covid-19 protocols, access arrangements and parking (which is very limited near the venue).

About the Cast

Noah Stewart (Rodolfo)

American tenor Noah Stewart is one of opera’s most sought after international performers. His musical journey began in Harlem before graduating from the Juilliard School and becoming a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. In 2012, he made history in the UK topping the classical charts with his debut album ‘Noah’, released by DECCA. He also made his Royal Opera debut that same year as Hassan in Miss Fortune. He has toured in the UK with the John Wilson Orchestra and as a solo artist. Noah has performed in three BBC Proms concerts’ as well as being named a BBC Music Ambassador and made his broadcasting debut at The Cardiff Singer of the World on the BBC.

Noah has sung widely in both the US and UK. North American highlights include Macduff and T. Morris Chester in the World Premiere of John Adam’s Appomattox; Faust with Atlanta Opera; Cavaradossi, Ismaele, Pinkerton, Nadir and Rodolfo for Michigan Opera Theater; Rodolfo with Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, New Orleans Opera, Opera Carolina, Opera Memphis and with the Orlando Philharmonic; Narraboth at the Arizona Opera and Radames at the Glimmerglass Festival. In concert, highlights include: Verdi’s Requiem at the Civic Opera House in Chicago; and Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s Magnificat at Carnegie Hall.

Outside the US, highlights include:  Cavaradossi with the National Resiopera; Don Jose in Gothenburg, South Africa, at the Royal Albert Hall and with Scottish Opera; Osaka (Iris) with Opera Holland Park, and Pinkerton at Covent Garden and with Opera North. He also performed in Peter Sellars’ critically acclaimed production of Purcell The Indian Queen at the the Bolshoi Opera, English National Opera, Teatro Real Madrid and Opera Perm.

Gemma Summerfield (Mimi)

British soprano Gemma Summerfield was awarded First Prize at the 2019 Concorso Lirico Internazionale di Portofino, First Prize and the Song Prize at the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, the Jean Meikle Prize for a Duo at the 2017 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition, and is the holder of the Susan Chilcott Award for Singers. She was a finalist in the Concours Musical International de Montréal and the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup. Recent and upcoming highlights include Fiordiligi Così fan tutte (her debut at Opéra national du Rhin); Nannetta Falstaff and Pamina in Sir Thomas Allen’s production of The Magic Flute (Scottish Opera); Pamina The Magic Flute and cover Michal Saul (Glyndebourne Festival Opera); Paula Jordan in the European premiere of William Bolcom’sDinner at Eight (Wexford Festival Opera); cover title role Rodelinda (English National Opera); and concert performances with the RPO, the OAE, the Hallé, and at Wigmore Hall.

Yuriy Yurchuk (Marcello)

Ukrainian baritone Yuriy Yurchuk was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from 2014-16, and a Royal Opera Principal from 2016-17. His roles for The Royal Opera include Marcello La bohème, Blazes The Lighthouse, Germano La Scala di Seta, Angelotti Tosca, Dumas Andrea Chénier, Prince Yamadori Madama Butterfly, Mandarin Turandot, Baron Douphol La traviata, Flemish Deputy Don Carlo, Johann Werther, Schlemil Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and various roles in The Nose. Recent and upcoming highlights include Marcello La bohème (Opera North); Lescaut Manon, Ping Turandot and Marcello La bohème (Opernhaus Zürich); Count Rodolfo in Foroni’s Margherita (Wexford Festival Opera); title role Eugene Onegin(Ukraine National Opera); and house debuts at Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels and New National Theatre Tokyo. Competition successes include prizes at Queen Sonja International Singing Competition (Norway), Montserrat Caballe International Singing Competition (Spain), and Ottavio Ziino International Singing Competition (Rome).

Emma Morwood (Musetta)

Belfast born Emma Morwood studied at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Northern College of Music, where she was a major award winner. Now based in Scotland, Emma sings regularly with many of Europe’s finest orchestras and conductors.

Recent opera performances include the role of Costanza in Vivaldi’s Griselda with Irish National Opera and the Irish Baroque Orchestra (IBO); Amore and Minerva in The Return of Ulysses (Monteverdi) with Opera Collective Ireland; Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) Previews; Pamina in The Magic Flute (Opera Theatre Company); and Mimi in La bohème (EIF previews). Concert highlights include The Magic of Christmas with the Ulster Orchestra; Handel’s Messiah with the IBO; Berg’s Sieben frühe lieder at the Royal Concert Hall, GlasgowBarber’s Knoxville: 1915 (Meadows Chamber Orchestra); and Verdi Requiem (Edinburgh Royal Choral Union).

Graeme Danby (Benoît /Alcindoro)

Graeme Danby is widely recognised as one of Britain’s finest character basses. For the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he has sung: Billy Jackrabbit; Charrington (1984); Gonzalo (The Tempest); Second Armed Man; Casino Manager (The Gambler) and il Sacristano. For English National Opera, he has sung roles including: Bartolo; Basilio; Collatinus; Dulcamara; Quince; Pistol; Pooh-Bah; Ribbing; Sacristan; Sarastro; Snug and Somnus in more than 1000 appearances with the company. Further UK engagements include Opera North, Garsington Festival, Glyndebourne Festival, Buxton Festival, Opera North and Scottish Opera. International engagements include: Teatro Liceu, De Vlaamse Opera, Opéra de Rouen, Salzburger Landestheater; Opera National du Rhin Strasbourg, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Palau Reina Sofia, Valencia and at the Teatro Sao Carlos in Lisbon. Recent engagements include: Irish National Opera, Israeli Opera, LA Philharmonic and the Neue Oper Friborg in Paris.

Edmund Danon (Colline)

Edmund studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Mark Wildman and Iain Ledingham and was a 2017/18 National Opera Studio young artist supported by the Glyndebourne New Generation Programme, and Peter and Helen Blumer. Operatic roles have included Andrei in the premiere of Bolton’s Litvinenko at Grange Park Opera, Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Nevill Holt, Eddy in Turnage’s Greek at the Arcola Theatre, and Oberon in Purcell’s Fairy Queen at Waterperry. Work for other companies has included Lakai in  Ariadne auf Naxos for the Glyndebourne Festival, the Tsar in Weill’s Der Zar Lässt Sich Photographieren, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan Tutte, and Dandini in La Cenerentola. On the concert platform, engagements have included Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Verdi’s Requiem, Bach’s St John and Matthew Passions, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs.

Aaron O'Hare (Schaunard)

Irish baritone Aaron O’Hare completed his BMus (Hons) at the University of Ulster, and went on to complete an MMus at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Matthew Best, having been awarded the ABRSM Entrance Scholarship. Aaron won the Northern Ireland Opera ‘Voice of 2015’ competition during their Festival of Voice and is also a recipient of the BBC NI and Arts Council NI ‘Young Musician’s Platform Award.’ Aaron has worked with leading companies in Ireland and England, including NI Opera, Irish National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera Holland Park, The Grange Festival and Buxton Festival Opera. He joined Garsington Opera’s Alvarez Young Artist’s programme in 2016 and was a member of the Opera Holland Park Young Artists in 2018. Aaron played Mike in John Adam’s I was looking at the Ceiling and then I saw the Sky for the Opera Lyon studio last year and is currently an Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera where he sang March Hare/White Knight in Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this summer. In 2022 he will sing Stárek Jenůfa for WNO and will also cover the title role in Don Giovanni.

 

Owen Lucas (Parpignol)

Owen Lucas is a Tenor based in Northern Ireland. Originally studying the oboe at RWCMD, Owen has gone onto to develop his passion for singing. He has been fortunate to been involved in the Glyndebourne Academy (2019), The Associate Artists of Northern Ireland Opera (2020) and sings regularly with St Anne’s Cathedral Choir, where recently he was the soloist  for the choirs performance of Stainer’s Crucifixion. He recently competed at the Dublin Feis where he won the Tenor Solo section.

Creative Team

Award-winning director Cameron Menzies joined Northern Ireland Opera in February 2021 mid-way through the pandemic. His career encompasses opera, theatre, music theatre, cabaret and film-making and his work has been seen throughout Australia, United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa, Japan and China.  He has worked for Shakespeare’s Globe, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Diva Opera UK, Opera Australia, Victorian Opera, Short Black Opera Company, Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra & Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  He is a Helpmann and Green Room Nominated director and awards include the Berlin New Music Opera award (2011), Bayreuth Opera Award for Opera Foundation Australia and a Sydney Award in 2016 for the best direction of Pecan Summer Australia’s first Indigenous Opera. Recent credits include the short feature film: Old Friends and Other Days,  50th Anniversary National Australian tour of HAIR The Original Tribal Rock MusicalSister Act The Musical at The Vaults UK,  Fluid and Under the Covers starring Courtney Act, Lucia di Lammermoor UK and Australia, Yma Sumac: The Peruvian Songbird starring Ali McGregor, Tosca, Don Giovanni,  Madama Butterfly, La Bohème Die Sieben Todsünden by Brecht/Weill starring Meow Meow and Strauss’ Salome at the Palais Theatre.  He has directed the world premieres of Pecan Summer, Redfern, The Selfish Giant, CONTACT! A Netball Opera, The Grumpiest Boy in the World.

Rebecca Lang

German-Australian conductor Rebecca Lang is one of the most versatile and vivacious artists of her generation.

Ms Lang has held several positions as Conductor & Coach at theatres including Theater am Potsdamer Platz Berlin, Theater des Westens Berlin, Deutsches Theater Munich, Raimund Theater Vienna, Landestheater Flensburg, Theater Hof, Landestheater Linz, Festpielhaus Bregenz. Career highlights include Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA[Staatsoper Hamburg], Tchaikovsky’s EUGENE ONEGIN & Massenet’s CENDRILLON [Her Majesty’s Theatre,Melbourne] & Stravinsky’s L’OISEAU DE FEU [Hamburger Symphoniker]. Musical Theatre highlights include EVITA, MY FAIR LADY, HINTERM HORIZONT, ICH WAR NOCH NIEMALS IN NEW YORK & THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. Before accepting the Director of Music post at Leuphana University, Rebecca Lang conducted Menotti’s THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF and Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA in Berlin’s independent theatre scene. In 2018 Ms Lang’s collaborative instrumental ensemble, the KREUZBERGER KAMERATA performed the world premiere of Cyrus Meurant’s HERAKLEITOS [Laeiszhalle Hamburg].

Jennifer Rooney

Northern Irish choreographer Jennifer Rooney trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance has worked throughout the UK and Ireland for over twenty years. She brings an eclectic mix of dance styles to her work. Choreography includes, Old Friends and Other Days (Film NI Opera), Kiss Me Kate (NI Opera), A Christmas Carol (The MAC); Die Fledermaus (NI Opera, Grand Opera House); The Miami Showband Story (Irish tour); Derry Girls (series 2); Our House (Greenwich Theatre); The Elves and the Shoemaker (Cahoots NI, The MAC); Good Vibrations (Lyric Theatre, Belfast); A Man of High Renown ( music video); The Hostage (Jackson’s Lane Theatre, London); The Assistant’s Revenge (Cahoots NI, Irish tour); Gutted (Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury); Much Ado about Nothing (The Handlebards); Gulliver’s Travels (Lyric Theatre). Work as associate movement director, Truth (Helen Chadwick Co. UK Tour); Once (The Olympia Theatre, Dublin and Charlotte Theatre, Seoul, South Korea); Resident Movement Director, Once  (Phoenix Theatre, London)

Cast

Mimi
Gemma Summerfield
Rodolfo
Noah Stewart
Musetta
Emma Morwood
Marcello
Yuriy Yurchuk
Benoît /Alcindoro
Graeme Danby
Schaunard
Aaron O'Hare
Colline
Edmund Danon
Parpignol
Owen Lucas

Creative Team

Director
Cameron Menzies
Conductor
Rebecca Lang
Set Design
Claire Morrissey
Costume Design
Diana Ennis
Choreographer
Jennifer Rooney
Lighting Design
Kevin Treacy
Production Manager
Pádraig Ó Duinnín