Opera Prize 2025

Platform member

Irish National Opera

This opera explores our relationship with the planet Mars through Jennifer Walshe’s experimental music and irreverent sense of humour aligned with a rigorous scientific approach to questions of inter-planetary colonisation, space travel and the ethics of human’s relationship to Mars.


For tech gurus like Elon Musk, it is a foregone conclusion: the salvation of mankind lies in the colonisation of Mars. But is Mars really our ‘Planet B’? Jennifer Walshe has been fascinated by the red planet since childhood. In MARS, she follows her own obsessions; an inflammable cocktail of technology, Silicon Valley, capitalism, the climate catastrophe and our place in the universe.

Jennifer Walshe is Professor of Composition at Oxford and acclaimed for her landmark symphonic work The Site of an Investigation at the 2023 Proms. She uses music to explore ideas in a critical and stimulating way. The text is by Mark O’Connell, author of To Be a Machine, an award-winning book on ‘transhumanism’, the idea that mankind must ‘upgrade’ itself with new technology in order to survive.

This opera will feature an ensemble cast of four singers and 12 musicians. The musicians will be an integral part of the staging of the production, co-directed by the composer and by Tom Creed.

MARS I is a fragment and precursor of MARS; it was co-commissioned by Irish National Opera and Klangforum Wien and presented as a work-in-progress in Vienna in 2022.

Watch the video here

Artistic Team

Jennifer Walsh is recognised internationally as a major voice in contemporary classical music and her work is praised for its originality, experimentation and innovation. The prospect of an opera by Jennifer Walshe is truly exciting. He approach to creating the piece is also exciting: In conceiving the opera, Walshe has not relied on a traditional librettist, but has turned to writer Mark O’Connell who is known for his writing on new technologies, AI and futurism. Walshe will co-direct the piece with theatre and opera director Tom Creed. Their working method will be highly innovative, as composer Walshe will be a primary force in the conceptualisation and delivery of the dramatic production. Irish National Opera has an impressive track record in commissioning and producing contemporary and experimental works (most recently: Least Like The Other: Searching for Rosemary Kennedy; Trade/Mary Motorhead; Old Ghosts; 20 Shots of Opera; the Scorched Earth Trilogy). See also: https://vimeo.com/920122840/96447d28e1?share=copy

Co-producing Partners

Opéra de Lille



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