I recently had the pleasure of attending opera performances given by Leeds-based Opera North at the Belfast Grand Opera House. I also went to Derry to see a performance of Alcina by Opera Theatre Company. Going north for opera - a new take on cross-border shopping!
The Northern Ireland Arts Council is to be commended in supporting Opera North for its visits to Northern Ireland. The Arts Council also supports Opera Theatre Company, a Dublin-based opera company (with an office in Belfast) which tours to venues throughout the island. OTC is also supported by the Dublin Arts Council.
Under a new plan for opera in the South, Dublin minister for the arts Martin Cullen recently announced that opera is to be restructured with a proposed merger of Opera Theatre Company and Opera Ireland - which does not tour - into one Dublin-based national opera company.
I am very concerned that the only touring opera company we have (both north and south) may be merged into a single, Dublin-based company that will never get beyond the Pale.
I urge opera-goers in the North to contact Culture Minister Nelson McCausland - and indeed Mr Cullen - about this matter. Opera-goers need to have their say.
Why not use these tighter financial times to forge an Irish opera company jointly funded from both sides of the border.
Such a positive North/South co-operation would be a very attractive target for much-needed corporate sponsorship.
Enniscrone, Co Sligo