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Wexford Opera Festival features three little known operas every year.

A night at the opera

The Wexford Opera Festival is a bit of an unusual proposition but it works and has done for years. Take three obscure operas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day since their début performance, and stage them again over the course of a few weeks. Of course, some operas are obscure for a reason and maybe they should be left mouldering but for every duffer there are several gems. This year was promising, with all three operas sung in Italian. It’s a general rule of mine not to go near German language opera. I find it dark and depressing. Surprisingly, opera in English is often woefully bad. There’s the advantage of being able to fully understand what’s going on without resorting to subtitles but there’s just something wrong about English language opera. You’re generally safer sticking with Italian or at a pinch, French. We travelled down in the aftermath of Ophelia and just before storm Brian made itself …

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Clare to shine on Culture Night

Clare’s cultural community will come together on Friday, September 22 to showcase the creativity that exists within the county. Culture Night Clare 2017 will see 40 free cultural events for all ages being held throughout Clare over a 10-hour period from 1pm to 11pm. This year’s programme, which is organised by the Clare Arts Office and funded by Clare County Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is filled with free events. Arts and cultural bodies throughout Clare will throw open their doors offering members of the public a chance to enjoy unique performances and catch a glimpse inside some of the most beautiful buildings and cultural institutions in their area. A poetry trail, classical music, a ceramics and jewellery showcase and a family art workshop are just some of the ways that people around the county can enjoy this year’s Culture Night. Culture Night in Ennis will culminate with ‘Firestorm’ – a show of light and …

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Michael Flatley opens Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann this weekend

Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley will officially launch Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, the largest Irish Traditional Music Festival in the world, in Ennis tomorrow, Sunday August 6 at 2.30pm in the Abbey Street Car Park in Ennis town centre. Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is delighted that the man who revolutionised Irish dance, and who previously took to the stage at the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ennis in 1977 as a competitor, will now return to the Clare county town 40 years later to declare the Fleadh open to a new generation of competitors. For many, the Fleadh is the culmination of months of hard work and practice as they compete against fellow musicians, singers and dancers to achieve the recognition of being an All-Ireland champion. For others it is a unique and welcoming festival of the best of traditional arts that offers a wide range of activities to be enjoyed by all. Shannon Airport has come on board once again as the …

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Hanrahan unveils JFK paintings

Monday, May 29 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of assinnated US President John JF Kennedy. To coincide with this, Clare artist Michael Hanrahan unveils the final four paintings from a series of nine paintings he painted in 2013. They will be on view at 6pm at his gallery on Main Street, Ennistymon. Michael wrote to Caroline Kennedy back in 2013 requesting images of the historic visit of the President to Ireland in 1963. The Kennedy Library sent him archival photos of the visit and he was able to base the paintings from these images. The Kennedy Library selected the painting of ‘JFK in Cork’ and Aer Lingus flew Michael and the painting to Boston where the painting was presented to Tom McNaught Chief Executive of the Kennedy Foundation in the private Kennedy room. In 2013 the painting of JFK speaking in New Ross was presented to Caroline Kennedy in New Ross during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the …

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Musical society enters the Little Shop of Horrors

ENNIS Musical Society will present its 60th production, the dark and hilarious comedy Little Shop of Horrors this month, opening this Wednesday night in Glór. The story is told from the perspective of a downtrodden florist shop assistant Seymour Krelborn, played by Eoghan Rice from Quin, whose interest in weird and exotic plants leads him to find a rather unusual plant of the fly-trap variety. The plant – with the right food – promises to drag this former street kid out of the gutter and into the arms of a loving woman, bringing him fame and fortune along the way. Seymour has to struggle between his conscience and his desire for wealth and notoriety. This year’s musical is being staged slightly earlier, with performances from March 8 to Saturday, March 11 in Glór. Typically, the society has a six-show run so with just four performances, Ennis Musical Society chairperson Anne-Marie Hassett said demand will be high. “This year is a …

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60 shows from Ennis Musical Society

FOUNDED in 1953, Ennis Musical Society has been responsible for bringing the most popular Broadway and West End shows to a County Clare audience and this year is no different, as it embarks on a milestone performance. Ennis Musical Society’s 60th show is the dark comedy, Little Shop of Horror. The Franciscan Order is the foundation on which the Ennis Muscial Society breathed its first life and, in 1953, the society, then known as the Friary Choral, took its first steps onto the amateur stage. Under the dedicated direction of its founder, the late Fr Eunan OFM, it held its début performance of The Country Girl at the New Hall, which was known locally as Paddy Con’s/The Jet Club and is now home to Madden’s Furniture. It took six years before it staged its next production, Wild Violets, in May 1959. The revived society was by then known as the Franciscan Musical Society. Someone who has been involved since the …

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Council has arts grants to award

The Arts Office of Clare County Council is seeking applications for the 2017 annual Arts Grants, which is aimed at developing and promoting the arts in the county. Grants will be awarded in three areas – support to individual artists, organisational support, and support for projects and events. “Allocated annually, this is a hugely popular scheme with almost 100 applications received in 2016,” said Siobhán Mulcahy, Clare county arts officer. She added, “Under the 2003 Arts Act, the arts are defined as painting, sculpture, architecture, music, film, drama, dance, literature, design in industry and the fine arts and applied arts generally. The awards can be used for the professional development of artists, the arts and/or increasing access and participation in the arts.”

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George Michael’s Labasheeda connection

A MAN with strong West Clare links has spoken of his enduring admiration and close working relationship with the late George Michael. Toby Bourke, who lived in Labasheeda with his wife Alicia and still owns a holiday cottage there, has told The Clare Champion of his admiration for the pop superstar, who died on Christmas Day. Toby sang with the world-renowned artist on the 1997 single Waltz Away Dreaming, which was the first release by the Aegean record label established by George Michael after he left Sony. “We first met in 1994, when he was mooting the idea of setting up his own record label. That finally happened in 1996,” Toby explained. “From about 1996 onwards, I was his direct employee as an artist on his record label. We had that in common but ironically my father-in-law then, from my first marriage, had prostate cancer and was in the room next to Lesley, George’s mum, at Charing Cross Hospital in …

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