'The First Child' (and the Last in Donnacha Dennehy's Trilogy)

'The First Child' (and the Last in Donnacha Dennehy's Trilogy)
© Dublin Theatre Festival
Exhilarating blend of opera, theatre and film…extraordinary…thrilling — The Guardian on ‘The Second Violinist’


Composer Donnacha Dennehy and writer/director Enda Walsh unveil their latest operatic collaboration, The First Child, in its world premiere staging October 2-9, 2021. Commissioned and produced by Landmark Productions in association with Irish National Opera, The First Child is presented as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

A terrifying story of lost innocence, The First Child joins The Last Hotel (2017) and The Second Violinist (2019) as the third in Dennehy and Walsh’s explosive opera trilogy of “suburban horror.” The First Child grapples with, among other contemporary issues, the impact of childhood bullying and the negative outcomes that can last a lifetime. It is composed for five singers, youth choir, an actor, and a dancer. Directed by Walsh, the cast features Sarah Shine (soprano), Niamh O’Sullivan (mezzo), Eric Jurenas (countertenor), Dean Power (tenor), Emmet O’Hanlon (baritone), Caia Hynes (actor/dancer), and Joan Sheehy (actor), with the Crash Ensemble conducted by Ryan McAdams.

Dennehy noted, “The First Child is the last opera in my trilogy with Enda Walsh. It feels to me to be the most intense of the three, powered along by a kind of tidal energy. And yet within that, I’m forever seeking the melody in these broken characters. In some way, the opera is about the impact that circular forces can have on our life and on nature. Though it has a dystopian looping structure to it ultimately, there is also a kind of catharsis unleashed by the power of the music.

“The bulk of the opera was written during the pandemic, and one can almost feel the music yearning and bursting to break the banks set up around it. Writing this opera was probably the most intense (and exhausting!) creative experience of my life so far.”

Read the illuminating digital program booklet.

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