Not many people outside of the opera world know that the song “I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls” (made popular, among others, by Enya) is, in fact, a ballad from an opera, The Bohemian girl (1843), written by the most prominent Irish operatic composer of the past, as well as of the Victorian period: Michael William Balfe.
Now largely fallen into oblivion, in his days Balfe truly enjoyed an international career – first as an opera singer and then as a composer – between Italy, France and England. His operas were so successful that they were staged across the globe, from New York to Sidney.
His only operetta, The sleeping queen (1864), will receive its first modern staging in its complete form (arias and dialogue) on Monday 22nd of January, in the John Field Room at the National Concert Hall. The show, directed by Peter McDermott, is presented by DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and the producer, Una Hunt, will give a short pre-opera talk.
There are only a handful of recordings of entire operas by the Irish composer. For a sample of the eclecticism of his music, on iTunes you can listen to two very different operas: the aforementioned The Bohemian Girl, a ballad opera (typical of the English tradition), and Falstaff (a live concert recording from 2008), an Italian style opera, visibly drenched in Rossini and Donizetti’s orchestral and vocal lines.
To book tickets, visit https://www.nch.ie/Online/The-Sleeping-Queen-22Jan18.
*Picture: Tenor Oisín Ó Dálaigh and soprano Catherine Donnelly. Photo by Conor Mulhern.
Maria Dolores, Queen of Leon – Catherine Donnelly, soprano
Donna Agnes, Maid of Honour – Sarah Kilcoyne, mezzo soprano
Philippe D’Aquilar, a young exile – Oisin O Dalaigh, tenor
His Excellency, the Regent – Kevin Neville, baritone
Vocal director, Stephen Wallace
Musical director, Una Hunt
Directed by Peter McDermott
Produced by Una Hunt