Enda Walsh and Donnacha Dennehy's new opera, The Second Violinist, comes to the Barbican Theatre in 2018

Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera
The Second Violinist

Barbican Theatre, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London

Thursday 6–Saturday 8 September 2018, Barbican Theatre
Press performance: Thursday 6 September 2018, 7.45pm
Please click here to request press tickets

The Barbican presents the UK premiere of The Second Violinist, winner of the 2017 FEDORA–GENERALI Prize for Opera, produced by Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera. Tickets go on sale to Barbican Members Plus on Thursday 14 September 2017, to Barbican Members on Friday 15 September 2017 and on general sale on Monday 25 September 2017. Prior to the Barbican run, The Second Violinist is at the Dublin Theatre Festival (Monday 2–Sunday 8 October 2017).

A dazzling modern opera that tells the foreboding story of a life falling apart, The Second Violinist unfolds like an unnerving thriller driven along by a haunting and compulsive score.

Martin, an orchestral violinist, is consumed by social media platforms, morbid fantasies and violent video games. Seeking solace in the music of Italian Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, his inner turmoil becomes ever more apparent as he searches for beauty in a dark, dark world.

The latest collaboration between internationally renowned Irish playwright Enda Walsh and composer Donnacha Dennehy, this brooding production switches between multiple timelines. It marries multilayered set and video design with a score, rich in amplified sounds, harmonies and overtones – reflective of the heightening tension onstage – and played live by the dynamic music group, Crash Ensemble. Lyrical and ethereal singing by three soloists and a 16-strong chorus contrasts with Aaron Monaghan’s central performance, physically fraught, essentially wordless and utterly involving.

Donnacha Dennehy’s music has featured in festivals and venues across the world including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Opera House, the Barbican, BAM Next Wave, Tanglewood Festival, Holland Festival, Kennedy Center, Dublin Theatre Festival, Prototype Festival, Ultima Festival in Oslo, Musica Viva Lisbon, the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. His music has been recorded by artists such as Dawn Upshaw, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Nadia Sirota, London Sinfonietta, Percussion Group of the Hague, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos, Doric and Jasper String Quartets among others for Nonesuch Records (US), Cantaloupe (US), NMC (UK) and Bedroom Community (Iceland). Recent large-scale works include The Last Hotel (2015) for Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera; Tessellatum (2015) for Nadia Sirota and Liam Byrne; If he died, what then (2012) for Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Surface Tension (2015/16) for Third Coast Percussion; The Hunger (2012-16), a docu-opera for Alarm Will Sound; The Weather of It (2016) for the Doric String Quartet; and The Dark Places (2016), a cantata for Crash Ensemble. Dennehy joined the music faculty at Princeton University in 2014. His music is published by G. Schirmer, New York.

Enda Walsh is a Tony and multi award-winning Irish playwright. His recent plays include The Same (2017), produced by Corcadorca, Lazarus (2015) with David Bowie; Arlington (2016), Ballyturk (2014), Misterman (2012) produced by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival; and the opera The Last Hotel (2015) for Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera. Other plays include Once (2011); The New Electric Ballroom (2009), Penelope (2010) and The Walworth Farce (2006) with Druid Theatre Company; Chatroom (2005) with the National Theatre; The Small Things (2005) with Paines Plough; Bedbound (2000) with Dublin Theatre Festival; and Disco Pigs (1996) with Corcadorca. For the past 10 years he has been supported by, and shown work at, St. Ann's Warehouse in New York. He has made four installation Rooms with Paul Fahy and Galway International Arts Festival: Room 303, A Girl’s Bedroom, A Kitchen and this year’s, Bathroom. His film work includes Disco Pigs for Temple Films and Renaissance; and Hunger for Blast and FILM4; and The Last Hotel which was made into a film for Sky Arts, produced by Brink Films, Landmark Productions and Wide Open Opera. In 2014, he received an honorary doctorate from NUI Galway.

Landmark Productions is one of Ireland's leading theatre producers. Led by Anne Clarke, the company produces wide-ranging and ambitious work in Ireland and tours Irish work abroad. Recent work includes several productions by Enda Walsh: The Walworth Farce, starring Brendan Gleeson, Brian Gleeson and Domhnall Gleeson; the world premiere of The Last Hotel, an opera by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh, in a co-production with Wide Open Opera; and the multi award-winning musical Once. Its award-winning co-productions with Galway International Arts Festival include the world premieres of Walsh's Arlington, Ballyturk and Misterman. Landmark's work has toured to the Barbican (where Howie the Rookie played in The Pit), to the National Theatre in London, to the Edinburgh International Festival, and to St Ann's Warehouse and BAM in New York. The company received the Judges' Special Award in The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for 2011, in recognition of its 'sustained excellence in programming and for developing imaginative partnerships to bring quality theatre to the Irish and international stage'. Anne Clarke received the Special Tribute Award in 2015, in recognition of her work 'as a producer of world-class theatre in the independent sector in Ireland’.

Wide Open Opera was formed in 2012 by conductor Fergus Sheil and producer Gavin O’Sullivan. It seeks to bring unique opera experiences from across the artistic spectrum to audiences in Ireland and internationally by presenting major works of the international opera repertoire as well as in developing and producing new work by leading contemporary composers. Wide Open Opera’s inaugural production was a full-scale Tristan und Isolde, the first performances of this Wagner opera in Ireland in 50 years. Since then the company has championed new repertoire including operas by Irish composers Gerald Barry, Raymond Deane, Brian Irvine and Donnacha Dennehy as well as the Irish premiere of Nixon in China by John Adams.

Wide Open Opera’s most recent production, The Barber of Seville, was awarded Best Opera Production at The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards in March 2017. Earlier this year, Wide Open Opera was successful in a joint bid with Opera Theatre Company to the Arts Council in Ireland to form a new national opera company which begins producing main-scale, touring and contemporary opera in 2018.


Listings information


The Second Violinist
Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera
Performed by Aaron Monaghan, Máire Flavin, Sharon Carty and Benedict Nelson with the Chorus of Wide Open Opera and Crash Ensemble
Composed by Donnacha Dennehy
Written and directed by Enda Walsh
Conducted by Ryan McAdams
Set design by Jamie Vartan
Lighting design by Adam Silverman
Video design by Jack Phelan
Sound design by David Sheppard and Helen Atkinson
Costume design by Joan O’Clery
Thu 6 – Sat 9 Sep 2018 (3 performances)
Barbican Theatre
70 mins/no interval
£16-40 plus booking fee
Age guidance: 14+
Press performance: Thu 6 Sep 2018, 7.45pm

Presented by the Barbican

Produced by Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera

Supported by Culture Ireland