Opera at RIAM: new beginnings
In 2004 Colette McGahon, Head of Vocal Faculty (2003 -2006), decided it was time to stage an opera at the RIAM. She enlisted the help of actor, drama teacher and RIAM phonetics tutor, Derek Chapman, and conductor David Brophy. The resulting production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was a very special event, as it was the first time in over a decade that a fully staged opera production had been presented at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
The 2004 production was also innovative in that it brought together three Dublin institutions: the RIAM, the Inchicore College of Further Education, and the College of Dance. Students of music, acting and dance, as well as stage management, costume and set design were given the opportunity to collaborate on the production. This combination of youthful energy and experienced musical and theatrical direction brought a fresh approach to Purcell’s miniature masterpiece.
In many ways, Dido and Aeneas marked a new beginning for opera at the RIAM. In the years to follow, under the leadership of Kathleen Tynan, Head of Vocal Faculty (2006 – 2012), opera would become a much anticipated annual event. The tradition of collaboration would also continue, with new partners Design for Stage and Screen at IADT (from 2011) and The Lir Academy of Dramatic Art at TCD (from 2012).