Tag Archives: opera

Standing and playing (in a new opera)

I’ve been involved in a wonderful new opera composed and directed by John O’Brien with libretto by John O’B and Eádaoin O’Donohghue. It is based on the short story by Oscar Wilde ‘The Nightengale and The Rose’ A pretty sad tale, but the opera is full of characters to delight! I’m one of the 9 muses – Melpomone, muse of Tragedy and in my earthly guise a willow tree. (the programme shot below).

I stand as I play most of the time, as I am acting and dancing (sort of shimmying along). I just pull the spike out full, which on this cello is sturdy and long enough, and the spike has a stop so it doesn’t fly out completely. Playing standing without any strap, it’s essential to have a sturdy spike.

It is still difficult when playing in thumb position and high up the finger board (lots in this show) so for these I bend my left knee and press it against the back of the cello to give something steady. I also hook it over my shoulder for moves across the stage, and do various bad postures, but as long as I always come back to a strong straight back throughout, it doesn’t hurt or give me a crick neck! I keep looking at the Bloch cello strap but in the shows I do, I need to swing the cello off me quickly and slickly, and have a mixture of sitting and standing and sideways cello playing. I have used a belt tight around my waist joined with another belt around the cello. This gave some traction so it was sturdier. But again slow to unhook and put aside. When you are constantly on stage in character there can be no clumsy movements. Well that’s my aim. I have tried many versions of straps in fact and am still investigating this for myself! 

I’m also using an Arcus S8 bow, which is great for standing. (it’s in that photo above) I thought it might be too light initially, but it is much easier to handle on the cello than my other bows, and actually I discover whilst standing and playing light is better, as long as it has good grip. It’s a perfect show bow, clean long bowing, accurate. I’m going to do a video review of it actually, cause when I was looking at them after a colleague was raving, I couldn’t find one. If you’re in Cork, Dublin or Limerick you can catch me in The Nightengale and the Rose on these dates:

Only 3 shows left in Cork before the Nightingale takes flight to Dublin and Limerick!
Book today at the Everyman Cork
🌹The Civic, Dublin (23-24 Oct) | https://goo.gl/9B9CqN
🌹The Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick (27 Oct) | https://goo.gl/11rKns

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Precise in every detail of performance, the production glows with a rich inventiveness of colour, surprise and allusion…” Irish Times

★ ★ ★ ★ It is unlike anything else I’ve seen on the opera stage to date. The storytelling is vivid, the spectacle is intriguing and the music is attractive.” Irish Examiner

Have a great day!!!


I'm enjoying the fantastic production of Pagliacci at the Everyman Palace. Our first night was last night. 9 musician/actors playing a reduced score, all by memory and moving about the stage with the singers. We are gods and godesses of the theatre, surrounded by the clowns/circus troupe and a whole gang of chorus.

Here is a promo clip

The costumes are stunning, by the amazing Lisa Zagone.

Pagliacci – Cork – 26/06/12

Tuesday, June 26, 2012
20:00 - All Ages Buy Tickets
15 MacCurtain Street
Cork, Ireland
Other Info
Presented by the Everyman and Cork Operatic Society in association with Cork Midsummer Festival, Barabbas and Cork Circus
Comprising a multidisciplinary company of high calibre artists drawn from the professional and local community sectors, Pagliacci at the Everyman will be a unique and exciting staging of Leoncavallo’s classic commedia opera.
Featuring outstanding singers, actor-musicians, clowns and circus acts along with a full chorus and orchestra, this boldly ambitious production takes place in a contemporary Cork funfair in which a fantastical travelling troupe of clowns and musical performers materialise to enact their play-within-a-play drama.
This production will turn the Everyman – street entrance, foyer, hallway and auditorium – into a pulsating and dynamic fairground environment in which audience and artists joyfully co-mingle.

Conductor & Co-director: John O’Brien
Co-director: Michael Barker-Caven
Principal singers: Cara O’Sullivan, Ronald Samm, David Burzotta,
Brendan Collins & Simon Morgan
Actor/Musicians: Ilse de Ziah, Marja Gaynor, Carolyn Goodwin, Catriona Frost, Deirdre Frost, Conor Palliser, Una Palliser, Cian Ducrot
All performances of Pagliacci will be surtitled

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Dido and Aeneas

Having a great time preparing for this. Don’t miss!

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I8aF_75Kq4′]

Cork Opera House presents
Cara O’Sullivan Majella Cullagh Mary Hegarty in Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell

Directed by John O’Brien

Arranged by and featuring Marja Gaynor (strings)
with Carolyn Goodwin (winds), Ilse De Ziah (strings) & Piia Pakarinen (accordian)

And with Brendan Collins as Aeneas

Choreography by Inma Moya Pavon
Costume Design by Lisa Zagone
Set Design by John O’Brien
Lighting Design by Michael Hurley

For the very first time Cork’s International Stars Cara O’Sullivan, Majella Cullagh and Mary Hegarty will perform on the operatic stage together in Henry Purcell’s exquisite masterpiece Dido and Aeneas.

The 1689 Baroque work is given a stunning new arrangement involving elements of jazz, gypsy and tango and is set in a fantastical gothic world.

This one-hour opera, based on the Roman poet Virgil’s tragic story of Queen Dido and her Trojan lover, Aeneas, was one of the first operas written and performed in English.

In this new production, each of the four singers also plays their principal character’s subconscious other self – a concept which heightens the emotional and sexual tension created by the passion of hidden desires.

The new orchestration will be created by Baroque and contemporary music specialist and violinist, Marja Gaynor for a quartet of multi-instrumentalist musicians.

Dido and Aeneas offers a top-quality, not to be missed artistic experience for adults and an engaging introduction to opera for teenage audiences.

Performance Schedule
Tues 8 Feb – 8pm
Wed 9 Feb – 8pm
Thurs 10 Feb – 1.30pm & 9pm

Tickets: €20
Concession Tickets Available: €15
School Group Tickets: €12
Limited Early Bird €15 Tickets Available