Andrew Synnott


Counterparts & The Boarding House from Joyce’s Dubliners. A co-production with Wexford Festival Opera.

★★★★★ "a terrific ensemble" "rare and wonderful ... and my highlight of the 2017 festival"

"Arthur Riordan’s reduction of the text to rhyming couplet gleamed as though newly minted and Synnotts’ writing was sure-footed and witty".  Irish Examiner

An unsuitable lover… an interfering mother…  an oppressive boss…  a dreary job… an insult that haunts… escape to the pub…. glimpses of another life…. imagination running away…. reality… lack of funds… frustration and humiliation… violence.

Life’s ups, downs, ins and outs unfold in front of a city of onlookers. James Joyce’s Dubliners perfectly capture the emotions, characters and flavours of Dublin from 100 years ago. Two new operas by Andrew Synnott (composer) and Arthur Riordan (librettist), each based on one story from Dubliners, are both contemporary and entertaining, and bring Joyce’s characters vividly to life.

In a new production from Opera Theatre Company and Wexford Festival Opera, Dubliners marks the operatic début of the acclaimed theatre director Annabelle Comyn, whose productions have been seen at the Abbey Theatre, Druid, Landmark Productions and the Dublin Theatre Festival. She is joined by Set Designer Paul O’Mahony (OTC’s Acis and Galatea), costume designer Joan O’Clery and Lighting Designer Rory Beaton.


In this dark tale, we follow the growing frustration of Farrington, a lumbering alcoholic copyist, over the course of one afternoon and evening. His mind numbing work is made intolerable by an overbearing boss who demeans him in front of colleagues. Washing away his misery in several of Dublin’s pubs Farrington is humiliated once more when he physically tries to measure up to a visiting English acrobat. Worse still, an actress that Farrington eyes up is uninterested in him. Frustrated, he returns home where his mood worsens and he violently takes out his anger on his son Tom. The music and libretto are infused with this growing sense of frustration and dread. The tragedy of Tom’s plight is central to the opera’s heart-breaking conclusion.

The Boarding House

Jack Mooney introduces The Boarding House, run by his mother. It caters both for clerks and visiting music-hall entertainers. The scheming proprietor, Mrs Mooney, allows her daughter Polly to spend time with the men who stay there. She knows that young men like it when a pretty girl is not too far away. A relationship blossoms between Polly and the successful clerk Bob Doran. Mrs Mooney carefully observes and tracks it until the most profitable moment. When she is sure the relationship has been observed by others, she knows that Mr Doran has no choice but to propose to Polly out of social propriety. The music and libretto poke fun at all of the characters as this entertaining drama unfolds.

This double-bill is scored for piano, string quartet and a cast of six singers. The music is both contemporary and entertaining, affectionately offering a new way to experience Joyce’s celebrated and popular stories of his native Dublin.  

Running Time

Counterparts 28 ½ mins
The Boarding House 30 mins

Tour Details

9 Nov 7:30pm Dublin Sold Out
10 Nov 7:30pm Dublin Sold Out
11 Nov 7:30pm Dublin Sold Out
20 Oct 3:30pm Wexford Clayton Whites Hotel
26 Oct 3:30pm Wexford Clayton Whites Hotel
29 Oct 11am Wexford Clayton Whites Hotel
1 Nov 3:30pm Wexford Clayton Whites Hotel

Production Information

Composer Andrew Synnott
Librettist Arthur Riordan
Director Annabelle Comyn
Set Designer Paul O'Mahony
Costume Design Joan O'Clery
Lighting Designer Rory Beaton
Farrington Cormac O'Lawlor
Polly/Mrs Delacour/Barmaid/Tom Emma Nash
Mother/Weathers Anna Jeffers
Bob/Alleyne/O'Halloran Andrew Gavin
Jack/Flynn David Howes
Higgins Peter O'Donohue

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