Opera Collective Ireland presents the World Première of Raymond Deane’s Vagabones at the Civic 6 – 7 September, a new opera by Raymond Deane in association with Crash Ensemble.  Based on Emma Donoghue’s stage adaptation of her 1996 radio play ‘Trespasses’, the opera with a libretto by Renate Debrun, is a fictionalization of the judge’s own account of the case of Florence Newton in Youghal – one of only a handful of witch trials that ever took place in Ireland. We had a chat with some of the cast as they spend the week preparing for this exciting world premiere at The Civic.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and where you grew up?
I grew up on the back of a sheep farm in rural Kildare, where I spent most of my days playing video games, reading books and driving my parents mad.

What is your background in music?
I came to music relatively late, compared with most singers I know. After I left school I went on to study drama with the Bull Alley Theatre Training Company, where I regularly performed on the Civic Theatre stage. Through the musical theatre performances in Bull Alley, I gained an interest in music and decided to get my voice trained in the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. I completed a degree in music there and have been fortunate enough to have been working ever since.

What’s has been your career highlight to date?
I don’t really tend to think of my work in a sort of highlight reel, but more so the general feeling of being in the right place that I have gained since starting opera as a career. After a series of jobs in bars, banks and clubs, a career in opera feels like one long highlight reel.

Tell us about Vagabones and what audiences can expect?
Certain words spring to mind. Relentless being the first. Musically, it differs from standard opera rep but the dramatic effect is gripping making it as much a theatrical experience as an operatic one. I think that the subject matter is well met in this sense; the story itself being rather harsh and from a harsh time in Ireland’s history.

What part do you have in the production?
I play the role of Valentine Greatrakes, who was real faith healer from 17th century Ireland and was commonly known as “the stroker”. Take from that what you will. He was born in Waterford and, in Vagabones, fills the role of the one who puts the accused witch to “the question”.

What’s next for You?
I have a pretty full schedule for the year; with performances in the Abbey, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. The Gaiety, Cork Opera House and the National Concert Hall. A lot of my upcoming work is with Irish National Opera, Lyric Opera, Cork Opera and Festival Productions. My next performance is as Fiorello in The Barber of Seville with Lyric Opera in the National Concert Hall early next month.

6 & 7 Sept