Opera Prize 2025

The Curing Line


The Curing Line (resized)
The Curing Line is a groundbreaking multi-platform opera project by Irish music-theatre company Straymaker which explores themes of healing, interconnectivity, loss of culture and environmental collapse through the story of a woman who inherits a life-saving cure but forgets how to use it.


The Curing Line (TCL) investigates themes of healing, cultural loss and environmental collapse through the prism of Ireland’s indigenous traditions of “making cures”. In addition to research at Ireland’s National Folklore Archives, the creative team interviewed people in the Irish border region who have inherited cures. Many interviewees discussed a fear that they will be the last in a line of countless generations through whom their gift has passed. 

In TCL, this urgency is distilled into the character of Cora, a healer who has lost her capacity to heal. The show brings its audience on a deeply immersive and multisensorial journey that navigates the thin veils between sickness and health, between self, society and nature, and between living and death.

Cora’s world is that of an Irish border town in the 1990’s, in the midst of the “Troubles”. Having grown up in institutional care, she is fostered by a family with a daughter her own age. Cora inherits a cure of ailments of the breath from her foster father. She works for a disreputable mechanic, curing in the evenings and clubbing at the weekend with her foster sister Eileen. Following their father’s death, a tension grows between the sisters around birthright and inheritance. A moment of crisis begins to unravel Cora’s belief in her capacity to heal, with devastating consequences.

In an age of increasing digital overload, TCL asks whether in thinking of the human and the environment as separate, we are failing to acknowledge that fundamental parts of ourselves and our culture are becoming extinct. In a world that hurtles towards its own forgetting, can one truly heal or be healed?

The Curing Line will premiere at Kilkenny Arts Festival in August 2025 before being performed at Copenhagen Opera Festival and Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival in Cork Ireland, with further Irish and international touring to occur in Spring 2026.

Artistic Team

Michael Gallen (IRL) - composer/director, co-librettist; Annemarie Ní Churreáin (IRL) - co-librettist; Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern (USA) - co-director: video & movement; Clara Baget (FR) - musical director; Pai Rathaya (TH) - set and costume design; Ross Stewart (IRL) - animation director; Sinéad McKenna (IRL) - lighting design; Romain Louveau (FR) - vocal director; Maura O’Keeffe (IRL) - producer. Michael Gallen is an Irish composer, writer, director, performer and Artistic Director of Straymaker. He is the lead artist on The Curing Line, bringing together a team of open-minded and gifted collaborators. Annemarie Ní Churreáin is an acclaimed Irish poet. She was also co-librettist for M Gallen's Elsewhere. Shawn Fitzgerald Ahern, choreographer on Elsewhere, will work as co-director with Michael on The Curing Line, bringing his expertise in movement and in live video projection and design. Clara Baget; a rising French conductor/musical director star whose particular talent as a choral director will be vital to our work with local choirs in each venue. Pai Rathaya’s work in her young design career is of an astounding quality, and is a perfect aesthetic fit for this project. Ross Stewart, multiple Oscar-nominated animation director. Ross and Michael have long been developing a show concept where animation could allow constant shifting of veils between worlds. Sinead McKenna is Ireland’s leading lighting designer and worked on Elsewhere. Romain Louveau is the Artistic Director of Miroirs Etendus and was vocal director & pianist on Elsewhere. Maura O'Keeffe is one of Ireland's most regarded international producers. Our performers have been chosen for their dexterity, dramatic versatility and skill in contemporary performance across multiple modes and genres: Daire Halpin (IRL) - sop; Aoife Miskelly (UK) - sop; Romain Bly (FR ) - horns, drums, vx; Caimin Gilmore (IRL) - d. bass, vx; Oisin Walsh-Peelo (IRL) - piano, harp, synth, vx; Joséphine Besançon (FR) - clarinet, synth vx.

Co-producing Partners

Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland


Copenhagen Opera Festival


Sounds from a Safe Harbour Festival / Everyman Theatre


Miroirs Étendus


Centre Culturel Irlandais


Once Off Productions



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