highlights of bvof

Highlights of BVOF 2023

Thanks to our wonderful audiences, friends and supporters, partners and sponsors, and spectacular artists. Our year has been filled with musical treats, opera, concerts, and recitals. We now look forward to welcoming you back to Ireland’s Summer Opera Festival from 27 May – 3 June 2024. Priority booking from 20th January, tickets on general sale from 5th February 2024.

Here are just a few highlights of BVOF from the last 12 months:


Blackwater Valley Opera Festival hosted a special BVOF Classics at Christmas event at Castlemartyr Resort Cork, in collaboration with the festival’s Preferred Hotel Partner, on Sunday 10th December. Guests enjoyed a seasonal 3-course lunch or afternoon tea in the Canopy Restaurant with an exclusive invitation to BVOF Classics at Christmas concert. This afternoon concert featured tenor Stephen Walker and soprano Aimee Banks accompanied by Doireann O’Carroll on piano – with an exciting programme of classical pieces, well-known opera arias, and some festive favourites to round off this special occasion. A very special BVOF thanks to our Preferred Hotel Partner – Castlemartyr Resort Cork: Dr Stanley Quek, Brendan Comerford and Elaine O’Halloran.    


Blackwater Valley Opera Festival hosted a Spirit of Music event at Waterford Distillery, in collaboration with the festival’s Hospitality Partner, Waterford Whisky, on Thursday 30th November. Sopranos Bláthnaid Nicholson and Aisling McCarthy were accompanied by Georgina Cassidy on piano, performing classical pieces and arias, with some festive favourites for good measure. Mayor Joe Conway, Marc Ó Cathasaigh T.D., and David Cullinane T.D. were in attendance for ‘The Spirit of Music’, along with BVOF Festival Director, Eamonn Carroll, and an enthusiastic audience of BVOF Friends and supporters. Guests were treated to an exclusive tour of the distillery by Head Distiller Ned Gahan – showcasing the company’s terroir-driven, barley-forward, natural whisky, all sourced from individual growers in Ireland. A very special BVOF thanks to our partners at Waterford Whisky: Megan Kiely, Ned Gahan and Mark Newton for this superb setting in their incredible distillery. 

A very special BVOF thanks to Dr Stanley Quek, Pamela Spreckley and The Ireland Funds team in Singapore, Irish Embassy Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts and St. Joseph’s Institution for hosting BVOF artists for BVOF in Singapore during November 2023. As well as performing at The Emerald Ball at St Regis Hotel Singapore, BVOF artists also performed at the Irish Ambassador to Ireland’s residence, at an open air performance in LASALLE College of the Arts, and St.Josephs Institution with workshops and performances for students. The flagship Emerald Ball Winter Wonderland gala fundraiser on at St Regis Singapore, brought together friends and supporters of The Ireland Funds Singapore for a wonderful evening of fine dining, entertainment, and warm friendship, all while raising funds for 2024 beneficiaries. Blackwater Valley Opera Festival performers in Singapore included: Kelli-Ann Masterson – Soprano, Amy Gillen – Flutist, Patrick Hyland – Tenor, Máire Carroll – piano, and Rory Dunne – Bass Baritone.


Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in association with Stonehage Fleming, Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn and the Embassy of Ireland, Switzerland hosted a celebration of the vibrant artistic, music and cultural links between Ireland and Switzerland – BVOF in Zürich – on 12th October at the Widder Hotel, Zürich with post-recital reception sponsored by Stonehage Fleming. BVOF in Zurich was hosted by Dieter Kaegi (Artistic Director TOBS and BVOF) with Patrick Howett (Chair, BVOF) and guest of honour, H.E. Ambassador Aoife McGarry, followed by conversation with author Clare O’Dea.  The joint BVOF/ TOBS recital featured John Porter (tenor), Felix Gygli (baritone), Anna Beatriz Gomes (soprano), Niamh O’Sullivan (mezzo-soprano), Bríona Mannion (violin) and Riccardo Fiscato (piano).


Thanks to Kildare Village for hosting an exclusive BVOF at Kildare Village recital and champagne reception in the beautiful new personal shopping suites at Kildare Village. The recital featured 2023 BVOF Bursary Award winners Phoebe White (violin) and Fionn O’ hAlmhain (bass), accompanied by Frasier Hickland on piano. Exclusively designed by international interior designer, David Thomas, the three Personal Shopping suites are a haven of luxury, sophistication, and fashion. Kildare Village is home to more than 100 boutiques of the most exciting designers, including Louise Kennedy, Armani, Mulberry, Prada, and Jimmy Choo.


More than 4,500 people attended Blackwater Valley Opera Festival 2023 for our most successful year yet. The sold-out festival filled the summer air with the beautiful tones of world-class performers. Ireland’s summer opera festival featured 21 events including opera, recitals and concerts at 12 beautiful locations, steeped in history and character.  The festival was made accessible to all with free open air recitals and education programmes including a schools’ night for 400 local students and children. Highlights included the headline opera Verdi’s Macbeth, set in the grounds of Lismore Castle, conducted by Killian Farrell, directed by Sarah Baxter and in artistic collaboration with the Irish Chamber Orchestra as well as concerts with Ian Bostridge and Saskia Giorgini, Nadège Rochat and Judith Jáuregui, and Paula Murrihy with the Irish Baroque Orchestra & Peter Whelan, at Dromore Yard. We had a festival with glorious weather, style and glamour – with plenty of pictures taken at our flower wall, courtesy of the BVOF fashion retail sponsor Kildare Village. The BVOF Hospitality Village Experience in the gardens of Lismore Castle looked gorgeous in the sun for our opera patrons this year. Waterford Whisky Witches Brew cocktails were provided with the compliments of our hospitality sponsor Waterford Distillery. There was plenty to enjoy under the beautifully lit stretch tents with Eunice Power’s formal dining experience – The Macbeth Menu – and Eamo & Ró’s delicious gourmet table picnics; with drinks at the BVOF Opera Bar, and wine pairings offered by Paul & Jordan Foley, sommeliers and owners of The Corkscrew Wine Merchants in the formal dining areas.  

Watch highlights from Verdi’s Macbeth at BVOF 2023 here.


We were so proud to celebrate the results of this year’s 25th Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for which Blackwater Valley Opera Festival were nominated across a staggering three categories! On 26th March, we celebrated a fantastic win for director and choreographer David Bolger who was awarded Best Movement Direction for our BVOF production of Orfeo ed Euridice (a collaboration with the Irish Baroque Orchestra) and Go to Blazes with CoisCéim Dance. The Irish Times review of the evening stated “Opera was prominent across many categories, reflecting the growing status of the art form in Ireland. Awards included David Bolger’s best movement award for, in part, his choreography in Orfeo ed Euridice – his work in Go to Blazes was also acknowledged.” Blackwater Valley Opera Festival’s other two Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards nominations included: Best Opera: Orfeo ed Euridice- Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and Best Set: Maree Kearns. We were delighted to celebrate the achievements and receive acknowledgment for Orfeo ed Euridice – on behalf of the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival production team, cast, crew, artistic collaborators, friends and supporters, volunteers and sponsors. 


Blackwater Valley Opera Festival was thrilled to be shortlisted for a Waterford Business Tourism Award in the prestigious Waterford Business Awards in association with Dungarvan & West Waterford Chamber of Commerce, Waterford Chamber and WLR FM for Tourism Attraction/Activity of the Year, sponsored by Failte Ireland. A host of Waterford’s top businesses were shortlisted for the ninth annual Waterford Business Awards. Speaking about the awards, Waterford Chamber President Paul Nolan said, “The past number of years have been unprecedented and tough on our business community, so the awards will give us the opportunity to honour those who have excelled against adversity. We look forward to a wonderful evening filled with positivity in the company of the best in business at our gala awards ceremony in Faithlegg. We will also of course be joined by Mayor of Waterford, Cllr John O’Leary, who will present the Overall Waterford Business of the Year Award on behalf of sponsors Waterford City & County Council, our esteemed judges and category sponsors, without whom the awards would not be possible.”  Managing Director of WLR, Des Whelan, said the station is delighted to be involved to both champion and promote the Waterford Business Awards for the ninth consecutive year. “The Business Awards are a beacon of positivity and once again the list of nominee companies in every category is of a very high standard. It’s very encouraging to see so many new businesses come forward and there’s no doubt that a vibrant business sector adds considerably to a county that’s been recognized nationally as Ireland’s best place to live.”