The work, which is ambitious, playful and thought-provoking, tells three true stories. All are about scientists adopting animals, treating them like humans, and abandoning them when they fail to learn to act like humans. But who is really failing here? The opera poses the question, “Are animals animals because they lack something we possess, or vice versa?” This is an opera for anyone who has ever wondered if their dog loves them back.
Horse Ape Bird features soprano Amy Ni Fhearraigh, mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty and actor and sign performer Caoimhe Coburn Gray, together with a youth chorus drawn from counties Kildare and Meath and the Irish National Opera Orchestra. The work is conducted by INO’s resident conductor Elaine Kelly. Dublin theatre and film maker Zoe Ní Riordáin directs, Zia Bergin-Holly has designed the set and the costumes are by Clodagh Deegan.
For composer David Coonan “In one sense Horse Ape Bird is a condensation of a year of my life — one year for one hour of music, of which I’m intensely proud. In another sense, it’s a beautiful magnification. Something that, at one point, only existed in my head is now being brought to life by sixteen passionate young musicians who fling themselves into everything; by three adult performers, who balance the dynamism of the young people with poise; and by a creative team, who make vivid a world that’s hitherto existed only in my imagination. I’m tremendously excited to have it staged and to introduce audiences to these wonderful young singers.”