World premiere of new opera by Trinity's Evangelia Rigaki and playwright Marina Carr

Posted on: 01 February 2023

World premiere of new opera by Trinity's Evangelia Rigaki and playwright Marina Carr

A new chamber opera, entitled Old Ghosts, will premier this week in MoLI - Museum of Literature Ireland. The production features music by Evangelia Rigaki, head of Trinity's Dept of Music, and text by playwright Marina Carr.

An imagining of James Joyce in conversation with Nora Barnacle, Homer & Penelope, the chamber opera 'Old Ghosts' is part of the Ulysses 2.2 project, curated, presented and produced by ANU, Landmark Productions and MoLIEvangelia Rigaki, Assistant Professor, Dept of Music.

Speaking in advance of the premier, Evangelia Rigaki, Assistant Professor, Department of Music said: “I was so delighted to be invited by Fergus Sheil the Artistic Director of Irish National Opera to participate in this exciting project. Old Ghosts is an opera written by a woman, composed by a woman, directed by a woman and conducted by a woman. This thankfully is not as rare as it used to be. In particular, it was such a pleasure to work with Marina Carr whose work I have admired for years.

“My research and teaching in the Department of Music at the School of Creative Arts focuses on contemporary opera and experimental music theatre. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work with ANU, Landmark Productions and MoLI to build new audiences for opera.”

Old Ghosts imagines James Joyce in conversation with Nora Barnacle, Homer and Penelope herself as possible inspirations for the character of Molly Bloom and the final chapter of Ulysses. The production features a cast of four singers (Christopher Bowen, William Gaunt, Doreen Curran and rising star Jade Phoenix) and a creative team including Louise Lowe (director), Elaine Kelly (conductor), Owen Boss (set design), and Saileóg O’Halloran (costume design). Music is performed by Richard O Donnell (Percussion), Dianne Marshall (Harp), Kevin Hanafin (Saxophone), Yseult Cooper Stockdale (Cello), Caimin Gilmore (Double Bass).

Fergus Sheil, Artistic Director, Irish National Opera, added:

“Ulysses 2.2 has been an unprecedented artistic journey throughout 2022. Irish National Opera is excited to be part of this explosion of creative responses to Joyce’s Ulysses and to be presenting a new opera by Evangelia Rigaki and Marina Carr together with our partners in ANU, Landmark Productions and MOLI. Evangelia and Marina first collaborated in our 2020 film project – 20 Shots of Opera – creating one of the most haunting of the 20 short operas, and I can’t wait to see how they respond to the final chapter of Ulysses.”

Lynnette Moran, Producer, ANU, added: “As one of the commissioning partners of Ulysses 2.2, we've invited artists to step outside their comfort zone to explore new territories within their practice. It is only fitting that we too take the same leap so, with great joy and anticipation, we approach our first opera in partnership with INO. We look forward to all the possibilities afforded through the collaboration between Louise Lowe, Marina Carr and Evangelia Rigaki. We hope the work will prove a fitting final project to a remarkable year of Ulysses 2.2 projects.”

Christopher Bowen, William Gaunt, Jade Phoenix in rehersal in MoLI - Museum of Literature Ireland

Old Ghosts will be performed live at MoLI, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 from 2 - 4 February 2023 for six performance. While all the live performances of Old Ghosts are completely sold out, the opera will be recorded and streamed on from Bloomsday, June 16. This initiative is supported by Culture Ireland. Further information available here:

More about Evangelia Rigaki:

Dr Evangelia is the Head of the Music Department at Trinity where she has taught composition and other subjects since 2010 and supervised a large number of undergraduate, MPhil and PhD composers.

As a composer herself, she has a diverse composition portfolio ranging from instrumental works to experimental music theatre, opera and dance. Her compositions are rooted in instrumental theatre, experimental music theatre and performance art.

Other music theatre pieces and operas presented by Evangelia in Trinity were: Gesprekken Van De Ziel, after the song Hadith Al Rouh by Oum Kulthum directed by Sjaron Minailo (first performed in Operadagen Rotterdam Festival, 2008), Dublin premier in November 2010, Beckett Theatre, TCD; Ode to Debt, libretto by W.N. Herbert, Crash Ensemble, Beckett Theatre, 2012; AntiMidas or Bankers in Hades, libretto by W.N. Herbert, directed by John Lloyd Davies (Opera Project Commission Award and Opera Project Development Award,  Arts Council) Beckett Theatre, 2013; The Pregnant Box, text by Catherine Conlon & W.N. Herbert, performed in a specially constructed confession box in Trinity's Front Square, for one audience member at a time, flutist, singer and a wandering choir (The Mornington Singers conducted by Music Colleague Dr. Orla Flanagan), 2014; Music, choir piece performed for the retirement concert of Music Colleague Dr. Martin Adams (Chapel TCD, 2015), 'While The World Misbehaves, the Baby Must Hide in the Beehive',libretto by W.N. Herbert, for 6 Dancing Percussionists, written for Richard O Donnell and the 20th Anniversary of RIAM's 'Percussion Ensemble', ATRL, 2018.

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