“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being” – Oscar Wilde
This is one of the countless witticisms of the beloved literary icon and it is perfectly encapsulated in this operatic adaptation of one of his most thought-provoking short stories “The Nightingale and The Rose”
I attended the performance on Tuesday October 16th. As a long-time fan of Wilde with a love of music I could not miss it. I absolutely loved every minute from start to well-deserved standing ovation for the cast at the end.
Composer and Director John O’Brien, along with Associate Director Éadaoin O’ Donoghue have created an opera anyone can enjoy. The cast and team deserve high praise for their work, with a moving performance by Kim Sheehan as the titular nightingale. Another memorable feature is that the role of the Rose Tree is played by an ensemble who own the stage every time they appear. I do not wish to spoil the full experience as it really is a show that draws you in and will stay with you for a long time to come.
What particularly stood out for me were the costumes and set, designed by Lisa Zagone, which truly bring the magical garden in Wilde’s fairytale to life. The orchestra themselves play a part in the narrative as the nine Muses of Greek mythology, each represented as a different animal or plant. These colourful creations are contrasted by the muted colours of the Student character, a figure of realism and practicality. Such details are what make a show memorable and it is safe to say that Wilde would be proud.
The story the opera is based on is about true love and the beauty of art surviving in a world that was beginning to dismiss such things as fanciful, a world valuing only facts and what is practical, much like its student. Wilde’s fairytale worlds reflected reality, showing not an idealized happily ever after but harsh truths that make his readers pause and consider what truly makes life beautiful.
John O’Brien, Éadaoin O’Donoghue and the whole team behind this opera have captured that message perfectly with moving musical performances from the entire cast and if given the opportunity I would see it again in a heartbeat.
This production is no longer available in The Everyman. However, there are further dates for October at the below venues. See websites provided for further details: