On June 3 it was announced that Irish opera The Second Violinist has won this year’s international Fedora-Generali Prize for Opera, worth €150,000. A co-production between Wide Open Opera and Landmark Productions, both Dublin-based companies, this new work follows on from the success of The Last Hotel in 2015 and, like it, is by the creative team of composer Donnacha Dennehy and playwright Enda Walsh.
The Fedora prize, awarded by the European Circle of Philanthropists of Opera and Ballet in association with Opera Europa, is designed to reward ‘new co-productions of excellence’ and support and promote new collective initiatives in both opera and ballet, at a time of restricted state cultural funding. Now in its third year, the competition pitted the Irish entry against productions planned by Festival Aix-en-Provence, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Danish National Opera, English National Opera (offering a new opera by current international wunderkind Nico Muhly), and La Scala Milan, amongst others. This level of success for The Second Violinist reflects not only the project’s high artistic standards but also the combined managerial experience of the production team, co-led by Anne Clarke (Landmark Productions) and Fergus Sheil (Wide Open Opera). More generally, the award represents a significant endorsement for the quality of work achieved in Ireland.
While awards are usually made well after a work has been seen, this award is unusual in that it precedes the actual production. Audiences in Galway and Dublin will have the opportunity to see it staged in the coming months, as part of the Galway International Arts Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival. Featuring the Crash Ensemble and Chorus of Wide Open Opera conducted by Ryan McAdams, The Second Violinist will bring together singers Máire Flavin, Sharon Carty and Benedict Nelson, alongside actor Aaron Monaghan, with writer Enda Walsh also directing.
The Second Violinist opens in the Black Box Theatre Galway on 26 July. For further details see thesecondviolinist.ie