Connect with us


Opera Workshop presents ABANDONED at the Old Sailor’s Home for Riverfest

Opera Workshop presents ABANDONED at the Old Sailor’s Home for Riverfest

Exciting news for Limerick as the Opera Workshop presents ABANDONED, a new site-specific home produced opera production for Riverfest from May 3 to 6 at The Old Sailor’s Home, O’ Curry Street, Limerick, ( May 3-5) with an accessible seated performance at The Hunt Museum (Monday,  May 6).

Expect a whirlwind of betrayal, loss and hope when you step through the doors and into the dramatic setting of the Old Sailor’s Home with Opera Workshop on Limerick’s Riverfest Weekend.  The company presents four short operas with a host of tragic, beautiful, fun and wild characters, inspired by the port, the sea and sailors, and those who wait on shore. 

The operas travel in time from ancient Carthage to modern day Canada and stop off in 1920’s Limerick on the way.  Each short opera tells a self-contained story performed by seven singers, accompanied by two pianists and a violinist.  





Moving through the four ground floor rooms and hallway of this rough space, Opera Workshop’s singers will spin tales of adventurers and of those they leave behind.  Three Limerick women wait for news of a missing ship due into Limerick Port; Purcell’s Dido, Queen of Carthage laments the leave-taking of Aeneas; a young Canadian sailor dreams of home and safety; an abandoned newlywed faces a honeymoon of singledom when her marine biologist husband takes off on an ever-extending sea voyage; and the micro-climate of O’Curry Street proves a challenge for a windswept meteorologist.

The Opera Workshop ensemble will perform original works by Limerick composer Fiona Linnane and an Irish premier by Canadian composer Sophie Dupuis in addition to arias and songs by Purcell and Haydn.  The hour-long performance will include the world premiere of Fiona Linnane’s new work, ‘Off Tuskar’, specially composed for Opera Workshop, and devised by the composer and singers during workshops in 2018.

This tragic opera is based on the loss of the Loop Headship, bound for Limerick from Wales and which disappeared off Tuskar, in the great storm of 1927.   With a crew of Limerick and Clare sailors on board, the tragedy had a devastating effect on the families left behind. 

 Fiona Linnane says Opera Workshop’s ethos and performance style has both impressed and appealed to me as a composer.  I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to create this new work with them.   Collaborating with the singers and their director Shirley Keane has been instrumental in the creation of this new piece.  Off Tuskar is a Limerick story but it is also universal in the experiences of its protagonists-the agony of waiting for news of a loved one and how society often targets people at their most vulnerable.”  

Fiona Linnane was supported by the Limerick Arts Office for her composition, with an Individual Artist Bursary Award. 

Opera Workshop was set up in 2017 by Shirley Keane. Based in Limerick the company aims to provide the focus for a collective of like-minded artists interested in testing their skills, developing new productions, seeking opportunities to experiment, develop and share innovative ideas in opera performance.

Opera Workshop is Limerick’s first resident opera company.   Limerick has had a love affair with opera over many years and now Opera Workshop is hoping to reinvigorate old favourites and break new ground in opera performance for Limerick city and county and across the Mid-west. 

The company is developing a strong following across the city and county with four new productions (12 performances) over its first two years of existence, with audiences enjoying the company’s ability to pop up in unexpected venues and create exciting, creative and accessible opera productions. 

Shirley Keane is an actor and singer of wide experience.  Shirley worked for a number of years as a performer, director and facilitator in the UK with companies such as Live Music Now, Glyndebourne Opera, and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  Since returning home to Limerick, Shirley has created four new productions for Opera Workshop. 

She has been invited to work with young singers at Irish World Music Academy,  the Royal Irish Academy, on the musical theatre course at the American College Dublin and with young women conductors at the National Concert Hall with conductor Alice Farnham.  Shirley is a regular cover presenter on Lyric FM. 

Comfort Warning! This is a site-specific performance.  Audiences please take note – There is no seating available and there are no facilities on site. Patrons are strongly advised to dress for the weather and to bring an extra layer for warmth. The performance will take under an hour.  For audiences that prefer or need some comfort or assistance with access, Opera Workshop will perform an accessible performance at The Hunt Museum on Monday 6th May at 5 pm.   

All tickets are available through the University Concert Hall Limerick Box Office.



Sailors Home

 May 3– 7 pm

May 4 – 5 pm & 7 pm

May 4– 5 pm & 7pm 

The Hunt Museum

 May 6 – 5 pm



Booking – University Concert Hall Limerick. –  Online:    Tel: 061 331549
Booking charges may apply

For more information, click here

For more stories on UCH, click here



Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.