Blackwater Valley Opera Festival committed to making opera accessible to all

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival is committed to bringing opera to everyone with its accessible and imaginative programme of events.

From May 29th to June 5th 2023, anyone with a curiosity about opera can enjoy 21 events at 12 amazing venues across the stunning Blackwater Valley. 

The festival’s school programmes, ‘Discover Opera’ and ‘Discover Singing’, are set to inspire young minds with exciting workshops and a night at the opera, while the Open Air Lunchtime Recitals offer 8 month olds to 80 year olds the chance to enjoy beautiful music for free in an outdoor setting. 

Rising stars of Blackwater Valley Opera Festival – Kelli-Ann Masterson, soprano, with Alex O’Neill and Donking Rongavilla of CoisCéim Dance Theatre, at Lismore Castle, Waterford . Photograph: Patrick Browne

Ireland’s Summer opera festival’s four free BVOF Open Air Lunchtime Recitals in Youghal, Fermoy, Lismore and Dungarvan will be performed by various members of the 24-strong festival chorus, and each performance will be different, offering classical and operatic repertoire in a less formal way.  

Suitable for young and old, tickets are free, but must be pre-booked to guarantee a seat. Bring along the kids and let them run free and dance to the beautiful music or gather some friends or colleagues and have a lunch date with a difference. 

‘Discover Opera’ and ‘Discover Singing’ are exciting singing initiatives presented by Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in partnership with Music Generation Waterford and supported by the Tomar Trust. It allows children and their teachers to dive into the creative world of opera – inspiring dialogue, critical thinking, and most of all having fun!

This programme of outreach classroom workshops takes place in classrooms throughout the month of May, and culminates in exciting opera trails in Lismore Castle Gardens, and singing workshop finales at Lismore Heritage Centre during festival week. 

The festival’s BVOF Schools’ Night will see more than 400 primary and secondary students, teachers and care assistants to experience a full opera dress rehearsal performance for free.

This magical night of opera will let them experience the beautiful music and performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth in the magnificent grounds of Lismore Castle, in Co. Waterford.

Over 5,000 children have experienced the education programme and Schools’ Night since its inception as part of the festival’s commitment to ongoing support of local communities.

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival’s Director, Eamonn Carroll, is thrilled to offer an inclusive programme of music and culture for everyone to enjoy.

“We are so proud to bring the joy of opera to everyone with our imaginative programme of classical music. We want to  engage the young through a creative and imaginative programme of opera and classical music. Our school programmes and outreach work are central to our mission; creating opportunities for young people to explore the creative world of opera. For the students, it’s about enjoying the whole experience; being in the gardens and at the stables of Lismore Castle, people watching, being absorbed in the drama and music, seeing the costumes, wrapping themselves up in the excitement of the entire event.” 

Dates and Times of Free Open-air Lunchtime Recitals – booking on

LISMORE: Millennium Park – Tuesday 30 May at 1pm
DUNGARVAN: Walton Park – Friday 2 June at 12 noon
YOUGHAL: Green Park – Saturday 3 June at 12 noon
FERMOY: Town Park – Sunday 4 June at 12 noon

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival. SCHOOLS NIGHT AT THE OPERA Photograph: Patrick Browne

Tickets for Verdi’s Macbeth opera at Lismore Castle are from €75, with tickets for any of the spectacular Dromore Yard concerts from €25.  

Limited free or concession rate tickets are available for the following events:-

St Mary’s Collegiate Church Recital with Artists from the BVOF Chorus

Tuesday 30th May at 7pm, St Mary’s Collegiate Church Youghal

BVOF Chorus Recital 2023 – Stepping out with the BVOF Chorus

Thursday 1st June at 1pm, Villierstown Church, Ballingowan West

RDS Collins Memorial Recital 2023 – With Megan O’Neill and Mairéad Hurley

Saturday 3rd June at 12pm, St Carthage’s Cathedral Lismore

Yeats in Music Recital – With Princess Grace Irish Library and RIAM

Saturday 3rd June at 4pm, St Carthage’s Cathedral Lismore

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival takes place from 29th May to 5th June 2023 at stunning venues throughout the Blackwater Valley (Waterford and Cork), with Lismore Castle at its heart.  

The festival showcases emerging Irish talent alongside established international artists and delivers memorable and inspirational experiences which enrich the cultural life of the region.

The festival is supported by grants from the Arts Council, Waterford City & County Council, and Fáilte Ireland. The festival’s lead sponsors are Kildare Village, Marsh, AIB and the John Pollard Foundation. For more see 

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