A brand new opera based on the heritage, history and culture of Belfast is coming to North Belfast later this month.
‘Long Story Short – the Belfast Opera’ will take place on June 18 and 19 at the partly-regenerated Carlisle Memorial church in North Belfast.
Composed by North Belfast native and award-winning musician Neil Martin and East Belfast writer Glenn Patterson, the opera is a journey through the history of Belfast’s industrial past to reveal a city that is today emerging with purpose and confidence.
A Creative Belfast project funded by Belfast City Council and the Arts Council, it features an internationally renowned professional cast and a 120-strong community chorus and orchestra, including North Belfast’s Cavehill Community Choir.
Commissioned by the Belfast Buildings Trust in the spring of 2015, the development of the work is inspired by the city’s cultural heritage and is about Belfast’s future as much as its past.
The opera’s music and libretto have drawn inspiration from hundreds of people who participated in several months of community workshops and would not exist without the memories and hopes of the people who shared them.
Rehearsals are already under way at the North Belfast venue of Carlisle Memorial Church, which locals have described as the “gateway” to North Belfast.
“People from North Belfast told us that Carlisle Memorial Church is important to them because it marks the gateway into North Belfast,” explained Shane Quinn, Development Manager at Belfast Buildings Trust.
“We are looking to find a long-term use for the building and local people believe it is an important part of North Belfast.
“We’ve been working at the building since 2008 and part of our engagement work is music.
“In summer 2014, we did a short pilot project working with kids from North and South Belfast on the heritage of North Belfast and came up with a short 20-minute piece.
“Belfast Opera came up with the idea to look back at the industrial and commercial heritage of the city and it was developed through 30 community workshops that gathered the ideas which have been commissioned into the opera.
“It really will be a big deal for the city,” he added.
The Belfast Opera will feature the internationally-renowned baritone, Bruno Caproni, three early-career Irish singers, Ross Scanlon, Rebecca Rodgers and Brid Ní Ghruagáin, and a specially created 100-member Community Chorus of people from Belfast, many of whom who have never sung before.
Director Conor Hanratty said: “I can’t wait to get started. We have world-class singers, the Community Chorus and an orchestra.
“It’s an honour to be involved and you will not hear anything like this.
“All I can say about the story is that the chorus is a group of 100 people working in a call centre and they get the rather large shock of somebody getting past security and into the building.”
The Belfast Opera and the creation of ‘Long Story Short’ take Belfast’s world-class industrial and commercial heritage of its famous past as their cue and capture the spirit of ambition and creativity that made Belfast great.
The opera tells a new story about Belfast, about a city that is no longer filled with doubt and uncertainty but driven by purpose and confidence.
‘Long Story Short: The Belfast Opera’ is your story, your city and your opera.
The Belfast Opera will have its World Premiere on June 18 with a second show on June 19 at Carlisle Memorial Church in North Belfast.