Commissioned by Irish National Opera and Landmark Productions

Unavailable for performance.

  • S,Mz,Ct,T,Bar,2actor(I:dancer), + childrch; 1(pic).0.2(II:bcl).1(cbn)/hn/perc/pf(cel,syn)/egtr(syn).acn(syn)/str
  • Children's Choir
  • Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Countertenor, Tenor, Baritone, Actor, Actor/Dancer
  • 1 hr 30 min

Programme Note

Cast List
   KAREN: Soprano
   ALVA: Mezzo-soprano
   SIMON: Baritone
   GARY: Tenor
   NURSE: Countertenor
   GIRL: Actor/Dancer
   OLD WOMAN: Actor

Children's Choir or Young Person's Choir (of around 8 voices of soloist standard, but can be expanded to 16)

The First Child is the third in the collaborative trilogy of contemporary operas by Dennehy and Walsh. Karen, a single woman, comes into contact with a young couple and their new baby via repeated "chance" meetings through which they become better acquainted. As the drama progresses we come to understand their shared past and how their lives interconnect with the old woman and her nurse who are introduced via interspersed scenes.

The First Child grapples with, among other contemporary issues, the impact of childhood bullying and the negative outcomes that can last a lifetime.

Composer Note
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. I should let you know that three of the players within Crash Ensemble also double up as microtonal pianists, playing notes between the equal tempered scale. Quite often these relate to the overtone series, but at other times they present strange doppelgangers of their equal-tempered equivalents. 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 creative experience of my life so far.

— Donnacha Dennehy



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