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New company aims to place opera firmly in the spotlight

A NEW company has been set up to raise the profile of opera in Northern Ireland.

Opera Company NI is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and includes resources from Castleward Opera and Opera Fringe.

The council said the company would create training and development opportunities for musical talent and bring a fresh approach to opera, with productions made to appeal to modern audiences. It has appointed Roy Bailie, former board member of Castleward Opera, as chair, and Bryan Coburn, former chairman of Opera Fringe, as vice-chair.

Mr Bailie welcomed the opportunity to help develop local talent, widen the social demographic and widen the audience age range.

"The board welcomes the challenge and looks forward to working in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and other organisations in pursuit of our goals."

The Arts Council is investing £374,000 in the new company.

Rosemary Kelly, chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: "Opera Company NI will provide new ways for local people to engage with opera, raising the standards of local performances as well as providing a platform to showcase the very best international artists."