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Donnacha Dennehy

Publisher: G. Schirmer

The Second Violinist (2017)
Commissioned by Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera
Text Writer
Enda Walsh
Publisher
G Schirmer Inc
Category
Opera and Music Theatre
Year Composed
2017
Duration
1 Hour 30 Minutes
Chorus
SATB chorus (16 singers)
Language
English
Soloist
S, Mz, Bar, actor (man), child (14-year old girl)
Availability
Unavailable Explain this...
Programme Note
Donnacha Dennehy The Second Violinist (2017)
Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh discuss
The Second Violinist
Synopsis:
The opera’s central character is the second violinist, Martin. He starts to experience a mental breakdown as a performance approaches. Martin has a lonely existence of practice, bus journeys, and unanswered phone calls. A married couple, Matthew and Amy, and their houseguest, Hannah, sing. Martin circles around this opera playing out, avoiding calls from his agent, and others. His playing for the ensemble is increasingly terrible. In moments of desperation a voice reaches out from his screen and we read the typed correspondence. A forest increasingly enters his dreams. It becomes apparent that Matthew and Amy’s marriage is in a bad state, and that Amy is in love with Hannah. Matthew discovers this, and murders them in revenge. We become aware that Matthew is a younger version of Martin and that this is his past. He arranges to meet the voice that was reaching out to him — in the forest: a 14-year old girl who comes to meet a 14-year old boy. We sense he’s going to kill her. Here he will end things.

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Composer note:
Subtext is as important as text to me. The music, as it were, powers the subtext; and an important ingredient in the music for The Second Violinist is a thread made of deconstructed, re-fashioned strains of Gesualdo. The main protagonist’s interest in the music of Gesualdo is sporadically made explicit in the actual text of this opera (especially in the projected messages between him and Scarlett38) but it carries even greater portent in the score. These strains even inform the flowering overtone textures that become ever more radiant as the opera proceeds, creating a friction between the almost ecstatic luminosity of the score and the brutal reality of the plot. This contradiction of course lies at the heart of the real life story of Gesualdo, the Renaissance composer – his yearning, beautifully strange music seems to be in stark contradiction to his grubby real-life act of killing his wife and her lover.
— Donnacha Dennehy
 
 
 


Performances
Date
Title
  • 02 OCT 2017
    Dublin Theatre Festival
    O'Reilly Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
    Crash Ensemble
    Directed by Enda Walsh; Ryan McAdams, conductor

    Other Dates:
    4,6-8 October - O'Reilly Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
  • 29 JUL 2017
    Galway International Arts Festival
    Black Box Theatre, Galway, Ireland
    Crash Ensemble
    Directed by Enda Walsh; Ryan McAdams, conductor

    Other Dates:
    30 July - Black Box Theatre, Galway, Ireland
  • 27 JUL 2017
    The Second Violinist World Premiere
    Galway International Arts Festival
    Black Box Theatre, Galway, Ireland
    Crash Ensemble
    Directed by Enda Walsh; Ryan McAdams, conductor
  • 26 JUL 2017
    Galway International Arts Festival preview
    Black Box Theatre, Galway, Ireland
    Crash Ensemble
    Directed by Enda Walsh; Ryan McAdams, conductor

Reviews
These insecurities and desires are Strindbergian in intensity. Rendered into operatic format they become overwhelming forces… If anything, this sublime production insists on forging a cautionary tale for modern times.
Chris McCormack, Exeunt Magazine,31/07/2017
…a stimulating and provocative thrill-ride.
Padraic Killeen, Irish Examiner,29/07/2017
From the exhilarating score, lyrical singing, and dazzlingly intricate design, this is a work that needs to be seen more than once in order to absorb the rich detail. Like its recurring filmed image of a murmuration of starlings, it soars.
Helen Meany, The Guardian,28/07/2017
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