WINNER Irish Times Irish Theatre Award 2022 for Best Movement
NOMINATED Irish Times Irish Theatre Award, Best Set, Best Opera and Audience-Choice

Blackwater Valley Opera Festival – Ireland’s Summer Opera Festival – returned for 2022 with Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Running from 31 May – 6 June in Lismore, Co. Waterford, it was conducted by Peter Whelan and directed by David Bolger, in an artistic collaboration with ourselves and the acclaimed, Olivier award winning, Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Orfeo ed Euridice began Gluck’s revolution in music as his score moved the focus from virtuosic performance to music that reflected the depth of emotion and drama seen on stage. De’Calzabigi’s libretto uses the Greek myth as Orfeo embarks on a journey to rescue his deceased wife, Euridice, from the underworld, however all is not so simple. The Gods, via Amor, make this no easy task. Orfeo must not gaze upon Euridice or explain to her the reason why while on their journey out of the underworld, for if he does, she will be lost to him forever.  



Orfeo: Meili Li
Euridice: Aoife Gibney
Amor: Kelli-Ann Masterson 

Chorus: BVOF Chorus

Dancers from CoisCéim Dance Theatre: Salma Ataya, Vitor Bassi, Justine Cooper, Mia DiChiaro, Jonathan Mitchell, Alex O’Neill, Donking Rongavilla, Rosie Stebbing
Orchestra: Irish Baroque Orchestra 

Creative Team

Conductor: Peter Whelan
Director and Choreographer: David Bolger

Artistic Director: Dieter Kaegi
Set & Costume Design:
 Maree Kearns
Lighting Design: Eamon Fox



Salma Ataya is a performer and choreographer. Growing up in Ramallah, she was first introduced to dance through Dabkeh (Palestinian traditional dance) and afterwards discovered contemporary dance through workshops delivered by international guest artists organized by Saryyet Ramallah Ramallah and the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival. Salma took part in local and international performances from 2012 to 2016. She has worked with Les ballets C de la B, KVS, A.M. Qattan Foundation, performing and touring in Belgium. Soon after that she came to Ireland to study at the University of Limerick and in 2017 graduated with a MA in Contemporary Dance Performance.  After that Salma worked with John Scott’s Irish Modern Dance Theatre, Catherine Young Dance, Séverine Chavrier, Théâtre d’Orléans, Paris, Justine Doswell and Mary Nunan.

Vitor is a passionate multidisciplinary artist from Brazil with 22 years of experience in the arts, creating and performing in the disciplines of dance, theatre, musical theatre, film and television. He was based in São Paulo, Brazil before relocating to Ireland, where he has been strengthening his artistic roots working with great names such as John Scott (Irish Modern Dance Theatre), Femme Bizarre with Jade O’Connor and Kate Finnegan, Spraoi Studios with Nicholas Kavanagh, Eric Fraad in the film The Island of Saints and Smashing Times.

Originally from New Zealand, Justine has been based in Ireland as a freelance dance artist, teacher and choreographer since 2008. Currently teaching at The University of Limerick as a lecturer in contemporary dance and choreography & most recent performing as a dance artist with Liz Roche Company, Cois Ceim Dance Theatre, Justine Doswell, Mary Wycherly, Oona Doherty, United Fall, Maria Nilsson Waller , Anu Productions & Junk Ensemble. Justine was a member of Meryl Tankard Australian Dance Theatre from 1998-2000. Her own work ‘Folds of the Crane’ was presented as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival 2015 ( nominated for Spirit of the Fringe & Best Lighting & Design) also presented at Dublin Dance Festival 2016 and What’s Next Festival 2018. ‘The Misfits’ by Corn Exchange ( Nominated for Best Movement Direction, Irish Theatre Awards,

Mia DiChiaro is a contemporary dancer and artivist whose ideas often circulate around participatory art and climate justice. Originally from New York, she received her dance training at the Ailey School and developed an interdisciplinary B.A. in ‘Performance and Arts Activism’ (New York University). In Ireland, she received a M.A. in Contemporary Dance Performance (University of Limerick) and has since performed works by David Bolger, Liz Roche, Lucyna Zwolinska, Jack Webb, Ursula Robb, Paul White, and Dina Abu Hamdan.

She teaches dancers aged 50+ regularly at Dance Ireland and Fatima Groups United and her ongoing eco-dance research has been supported by the Irish Arts Council and Dance Ireland.

Jonathan graduated from the Rambert School, London, in 1992. Since then he has been fortunate to work with a host of choreographers and companies, including Adventures in Motion Pictures, Mathew Hawkins, Liz Roche Company and IMDT, performing on four continents and in both hemispheres. Jonathan’s association with CoisCeim began in 2001 with The Rite of Spring, and he has worked with the company many times since, including When Once Is Never Enough, Mermaids, Pageant, Agnes, The Wolf and Peter, These Rooms, Body Language/In The Magic Hour and Francis Footwork.

Alex’s dance career began when he became one of 8 Hip-Hop dancers for a dance crew for a RTÉ’s Supercrew (2010-2011) and then represented Ireland at the World Hip-Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas (2012). Film and television credits include: Mrs Browns Boys Da Movie (2014); the Bollywood smash hit Ek Tha Tiger (2012); the 5th season of Vikings as a Dancer/Feature; the featured dancer in the Ireland’s Got Talent Advert for 2019 and worked/performed with the acts for the live semi/final shows on Season 2; Ridley Scott’s feature film The Last Duel alongside Matt Damon and Adam Driver; and Disenchanted for Disney in which he was cast in multiple scenes in which he dances and features. He recently featured in James Vincent McMorrow’s latest music video Gone and in Floria Sigismondi’s upcoming film The Silence Of Mercy.

Alex has done feature commercial work with Red Bull, RTÉ, Apple, Heineken, Ryanair, Facebook, Google, Vodafone and Orchard Theives to name a few, and featured in Lifestyle Sports Christmas Campaign/Adverts (2018 & 2021).

At the 3 Arena, Alex choreographed and performed in the 80’s & 90’s Disco (2018) which included the likes of Ace Of Base, 2 Unlimited and Haddaway; the 90’s & 00’s Disco Night which included Club 7, Bewitched and five; as a main act for Junk Kouture (2017 & 2018) and alongside the world famous music group Rudimental, choreographed by Kyle Hanagami (2017).  He was head choreographer for 80’s and 90’s Disco Night’s European Tour 2019.

Other performance credits include Hip-Hop guest soloist in Monica Loughman’s annual production of The Nutcracker (2012-2015); the Michael Jackson Man In The Mirror Tribute tour (2014-2016); Centenary at Bord Gais Theatre and RTÉ 1 (2016); Laochra at Croke Park and TG4 (2016); Robin Hood and His Merry Men (2016) and Rapunzel (2017) at the Gaiety Theatre; Winner of the Industry Event Awards (2016 & 2017); Electric Picnic (2017). He performed at the 3 Arena. Irish Touring Panto Production of Sleeping Beauty (2018-2019)

Alex is the proud Irish Ambassador for “Krump Saves Lives” World Organisation. He also has a passion for making short dance films for his YouTube channel which have been seen in over 190 countries.

Donking is a Street Dancer from the Philippines, and has been based in Ireland since 2002. He started his professional dance career at 16, and later he went on to become a Choreographer, Break dancer, Acrobatic Teacher, actor and music video dance Director. Donking made his CoisCéim debut in AGNES and worked with David Bolger on RTÉ’S CENTENARY in 2016 and OUR FATHERS in 2021.

Acting credits include LOVE ROSIE with Lily Collins, HERSELF produced by Sharon Horgan, Television credits include THE VIKINGS, LOVE HATE, RAW, ASHLING’S DIARY and GRAND OPENING and the Orchard Thieves and Eir Sport ads. He featured in BALLET CHANCERS with Monica Loughman Ballet in 2008. He recently performed a dramatised reading of the book called EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS for the Dublin Literary Award 2021.

He represented Ireland in the world Hiphop championship in the USA 2006, 2007 and 2012 and was awarded Ireland’s Dance Masters Choreographer of the Year(2011). He has worked with big names in the music industry, the likes of Hosier, Jedward, The Coronas. Choreography credits include the award winning Bollywood short film MOORE STREET MASALA, RTÉ’s TINA TIMES TWO (Dyehouse Films). He has been the assistant Choreographer for the Gaiety Panto every year since 2016.

Donking is the spokesperson for Breaking Ireland, a national member body of Olympic Federation of Ireland in preparation for Paris Olympics 2024.

Rosie Stebbing is a contemporary dancer from Kildare. She trained at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in the Netherlands from 2017 to 2021, during which time she worked with choreographers Roser Lopez Espinosa, Jasper van Luijk and Eldad Ben Sasson. In the final year of her studies, she joined Holstebro Dansekompagni (Denmark) as an apprentice for the season 2020/2021. Since graduating, Rosie has danced with Step Up Dance Program, co-ordinated by Dance Limerick, working with Lucyna Zwolinska and David Bolger on the creation and tour of two new works. In spring 2022, she joined the Irish Aerial Creation Centre’s “Soar Up”, a program which allowed her to spend two months training in aerial dance. She performed as a dancer in Fidget Feet’s latest production, House!. Alongside her work as a performer, Rosie has begun to make her own work in collaboration with dancer and maker Ornella Dufay-Miralles. They will kick off their collaboration as a collective with a residency at Shawbrook later in 2022.


Ireland’s Summer Opera Festival joyfully engages audiences through a creative and imaginative programme of opera and classical music in the beautiful Blackwater Valley. It showcases emerging Irish talent alongside established international artists and delivering memorable and inspirational experiences that enrich the cultural life of the region.

Lismore Castle has been the Festival’s home since 2010. The old Stable Yard and impressive grounds of the Castle provide a magical backdrop for a bespoke opera production each summer. 


The Irish Baroque Orchestra is acclaimed as Ireland’s flagship period music ensemble and delivers historically-informed performances to the highest standards across Ireland and abroad. Under the artistic direction of Peter Whelan, scholarship and musical excellence converge in a unique way through the IBO’s work. This creates an original offering like no other organisation on the Irish classical music scene. Through this integration of research and practice the very idea of an orchestra is defined afresh, providing an unusual and enriching experience for today’s audiences.

As an ambassador for the stories of Ireland’s musical past, the IBO uses its unique perspective to develop the growing store of knowledge surrounding the very early days of Baroque and Classical music in Ireland. The IBO’s research, recordings and performances offer the people of Ireland a new opportunity to reevaluate and reclaim their cultural heritage, while also engaging the Irish diaspora through the increasing global reach of this work. Even Handel’s Messiah – an annual touring highlight in the IBO calendar – is a rekindled link to Dublin’s cultural life in 1742.

In 2019 the orchestra released Welcome Home Mr Dubourg on Linn Records, which was profiled in the Irish Times and on BBC Radio 3 and met with positive reviews across Europe. The second album, ‘The Trials of Tenducci’ featuring Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught, came out in March 2021 and went straight to the top of the iTunes classical chart in Ireland upon its release. It has enjoyed critical acclaim world-wide, receiving notable praise from Gramophone Magazine, France Musique & BR Klassik. In February 2022 the IBO made its debut to critical acclaim at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, London with Vivaldi’s Bajazet, a co-production from Irish National Opera and the Royal Opera House. They  subsequently won an Olivier Award in the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’ category for their work on this production. 

The IBO is committed to developing the scene for historically-informed performance in Ireland, and works with a number of partner organisations across the country to ensure its continued growth for future generations. The Irish Youth Baroque Orchestra gives students the opportunity to work intensively on elements of period style, and IBO’s Apprentice Scheme supports students as they take their first steps into the profession. An annual side-by-side scheme with the Royal Irish Academy of Music is a crucial, recent development in the IBO’s educational portfolio, as is a new Baroque Strings class aimed at amateur adult string players. 

The Irish Baroque Orchestra is generously funded by the Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. It also receives financial support from Dublin City Council and Culture Ireland. The orchestra has its own collection of period instruments, purchased with the assistance of an Arts Council capital grant and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The IBO is resident at the National Concert Hall, Dublin and as of 2021 is an ensemble member of the Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne (European Early Music Network). 





Photos by Sean O’Riordan