The Second Violinist

Winner of the FEDORA - Generali Prize for Opera


«The opera focuses on the character of the second violinist in an ensemble. We examine this man as he experiences a mental breakdown as a major performance looms. He gets pulled further and further into darkness. The stage will be divided into 3 areas. The orchestra pit – which he climbs out of, on stage – a wide space representing his apartment and above this space, a forest. Initially there’s just music as we watch how he lives. We present him as the most ordinary of men. He’s been unsuccessfully dating women he’s met online. We see an encounter with a woman (and another woman). It’s quietly, hilariously, disastrous. We see a vision of him earlier in life. He meets with the same woman - and they sing. He tries to knit together a love story. This search for beauty becomes his obsession. Meanwhile cracks appear in his everyday life. Beneath them we sense a volatile dangerous soul. In moments of desperation a single voice reaches out from his screen and we read the typed correspondence. It’s the only part of his reality that makes any sense. He finally escapes to the forest above him. There he meets the voice that was reaching out to him. It’s a 14-year-old girl who has come to meet a 14 year old boy. Before she knows it - we sense he’s going to kill her. Maybe this is him finding and experiencing a pure beauty. But then – perhaps not.» Enda Walsh

«Musically, the score focuses on a thread made of deconstructed, re-fashioned strains of Gesualdo. The main protagonist’s fascination with the music of Gesualdo is sporadically made explicit in the actual text (especially in the projected text messages) but it carries even greater focus in the score. These strains 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, which finds contemporary resonance in The Second Violinist.» Donnacha Dennehy

Watch the trailer

Watch the full production of The Second Violinist online on OperaVision!

This version is available until August 1st, 2018.

Lead companies:

Wide Open Opera - Dublin, Ireland
Landmark Productions - Dublin, Ireland

Co-producing partners:

Galway International Arts Festival, Ireland
Dublin Theatre Festival, Ireland
The Barbican, United Kingdom
St Ann’s Warehouse, United States

Artistic team:

Donnacha Dennehy - Composer
Enda Walsh - Librettist and Stage Director
Ryan McAdams - Conductor
Jamie Vartan - Set Designer
Joan O’Clery - Costume Designer
Adam Silverman - Lighting Designer
Jack Phelan - Video Designer
Helen Atkinson & David Sheppard - Sound Designers
Chorus of Wide Open Opera - Chorus
Crash Ensemble - Orchestra

Opening night:

Date:        July 27th, 2017
Venue:     Black Box Theatre - Galway, Ireland as part of Galway International Arts Festival

Rehearsal Impressions

©Ste Murray