IMAGINE AN opera where the main character is not allowed to sing, nor allowed have any lines. He may not even utter the slightest sound. Such an opera has just opened at the Galway International Arts Festival.
This is The Second Violinist by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh, with Aaron Monoghan - well known in Galway from his performances with Druid in Waiting For Godot, The Cripple Of Inismaan, DruidSynge, and DruidMurphy - in that lead role.
This is challenging for Monoghan in two ways - he has never previously performed in an opera and also, he must stay silent throughout the show. "It's quite a big departure for me”, he said, "but when Landmark Productions offered me the role, I saw it as a chance to do something completely different, and to scare the life out of me.”
The music will be performed by the Crash Ensemble while the singers are Sharon Carty, Máire Flavin, and Benedict Nelson. So what kind of role will Aaron play in The Second Violinist?
“He is the second violinist in an orchestra, and in life is he also ‘second fiddle’,” says Aaron. “His life is falling apart. There’s this question of violence that hangs over the character; he’s obsessed with online platforms; his marriage is failing; he’s falling behind in his music career. Throughout, Enda Walsh and his team play with all manner of digital technology - there are all these people on the phone to him, leaving messages for him, and it all builds into a crescendo where the darkness is revealed. And throughout, there is an opera happening around him. He’s aware of these singers and he is trying to control it. The question is, is this just happening in his head?”
A man stretched to breaking point then - sounds like Michael Douglas's character in Falling Down. “You know what?” says Aaron, “I was chatting to Enda and he mentioned that movie as a reference to watch, of a character under huge pressure. It’s very Enda - a character who is trying to get through the day.”
The Second Violinist runs at the Black Box Theatre today, Saturday, and Sunday, at 7pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2pm. Tickets are from the GIAF box office, Forster Street and www.giaf.ie #GIAF17