Prize for Opera 2017

The Second Violinist
Platform member

Irish National Opera

The Second Violonist - FEDORA 10 Years - Winner of the FEDORA - GENERALI Prize for Opera 2017

*The white circle on the image is a graphic translation of the emotions conveyed by the project. This visual representation has been generated thanks to generative artificial intelligence within a campaign designed by our partner Landor & Fitch, the world's largest specialist brand and design group, to celebrate FEDORA's 10-year anniversary. Learn more.


«The opera focuses on the character of the second violinist in an ensemble. We examine this man as he experiences a mental breakdown as a major performance looms. He gets pulled further and further into darkness. The stage will be divided into 3 areas. The orchestra pit – which he climbs out of, on stage – a wide space representing his apartment and above this space, a forest. Initially there’s just music as we watch how he lives. We present him as the most ordinary of men. He’s been unsuccessfully dating women he’s met online. We see an encounter with a woman (and another woman). It’s quietly, hilariously, disastrous. We see a vision of him earlier in life. He meets with the same woman - and they sing. He tries to knit together a love story. This search for beauty becomes his obsession. Meanwhile cracks appear in his everyday life. Beneath them we sense a volatile dangerous soul. In moments of desperation a single voice reaches out from his screen and we read the typed correspondence. It’s the only part of his reality that makes any sense. He finally escapes to the forest above him. There he meets the voice that was reaching out to him. It’s a 14-year-old girl who has come to meet a 14 year old boy. Before she knows it - we sense he’s going to kill her. Maybe this is him finding and experiencing a pure beauty. But then – perhaps not.» Enda Walsh

«Musically, the score focuses on a thread made of deconstructed, re-fashioned strains of Gesualdo. The main protagonist’s fascination with the music of Gesualdo is sporadically made explicit in the actual text (especially in the projected text messages) but it carries even greater focus in the score. These strains become ever more radiant as the opera proceeds, creating a friction between the almost ecstatic luminosity of the score and the brutal reality of the plot. This contradiction of course lies at the heart of the real-life story of Gesualdo, which finds contemporary resonance in The Second Violinist.» Donnacha Dennehy

  • To learn more about The Second Violinist, click here


"Innovative and absorbing"


"Darkly enigmatic drama"

Financial Times 

"A work that is at once funny and depressing in its truthfulness"

The Telegraph

Video Presentation

Artistic Team

Donnacha DennehyComposer

Enda Walsh, Librettist and Stage Director

Ryan McAdamsConductor

Jamie VartanSet Designer

Joan O’CleryCostume Designer

Adam Silverman, Lighting Designer

Jack Phelan, Video Designer

Helen Atkinson & David SheppardSound Designers

Chorus of Wide Open OperaChorus

Crash Ensemble, Orchestra

Donnacha 2

Donnacha Dennehy


Portrait Enda Walsh ©  Sarah Weal

Enda Walsh


Ryan McAdams

Ryan McAdams


Jamie Vartan

Jamie Vartan

Set Designer

Adam Silverman

Adam Silverman

Lighting Designer

Helen Atkinson

Helen Atkinson

Sound Designer

David Sheppard

David Sheppard

Sound Designer

Co-producing Partners

Dublin Theatre Festival Logo

Dublin Theatre Festival


Galway Int. Arts Festival

Galway International Arts Festival


Landmark Productions

Landmark Productions


St Anns Warehouse

St Ann's Warehouse

United States


The Barbican

United Kingdom

Thompson Arts Center at Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory

United States


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