North County Leader

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Malahide Composer’s Opera

Malahide composer, Siobhán ClearyMalahide composer, Siobhán Cleary

Malahide lady, Siobhán Cleary’s opera, Vampirella will be showcased this March 21st-25th, in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. The production is presented by the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) in collaboration with The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art. Siobhán told the County Leader, “I grew up in Broomfield, Malahide which was quite a rural area in those days. There were a lot of magical places for a kid to explore, such Malahide Castle or the Motte and Bailey in Wheatfield, where there was wonderful old oak which we used to spend hours climbing. I think this helped feed and nurture my imagination as a child and perhaps ultimately directed me towards creative pursuits.”

Siobhán is a past pupil of Scoil Íosa, Malahide and then went on to study music at NUI Maynooth, Queen’s University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin. The talented North County girl also has attended composition courses in Italy, Poland and France.

The opera is inspired by a short story by Angela Carter. Set in 1914, Angela Carter’s story tells of Hero, an English soldier on a cycling holiday in the Carpathian Mountains, who seeks shelter in a lonely castle where he meets and disarms the beautiful vampire Countess. Hero’s virgin innocence saves him from being eaten alive by the beautiful blood-sucking woman, but it will not save him from the butchery of the First World War. As the lovely lady vampire meets her match in the person of a virgin boy, so Carter’s baroque prose meets its match in Siobhán’s dramatic musical composition, with playful lyricism underpinning the drama, humour and ornate language, and Carter’s inspiring original material honed into a libretto by Katy Hayes.

Irish talent has frequently been drawn to the vampire myth. Dubliner Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula has been absorbed and firmly embedded into the global vampire narrative.

The story returns once again to Ireland, to provide lifeblood for this original contemporary Irish chamber opera, written specifically for the talented singers and instrumentalists of the RIAM and funded by an Arts Council Project Award.