Things We Throw Away

Artist Name(s) Produced by Wide Open Opera
Artwork title Things We Throw Away

‘Things We Throw Away’ was a series of five short operas by composer Brian Irvine and writer John McIlduff , inspired by the lives of real people in Dublin and the “moments that normally go un-noticed”, in an attempt to capture the “life and the poetry behind these inconsequential episodes”. The series was produced by Wide Open Opera as part of the Dublin City Public Art Programme, and the operas were performed in public places around Dublin on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th July 2014.

The performers were Sylvia O’Brien (soprano), Doreen Curran (mezzo) Gerry Noonan (baritone) and Niamh Lawlor (puppeteer). The performers sang live, accompanied by a specially recorded soundtrack, performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra conducted by Fergus Sheil. Each opera was performed 4 times, with 20 short performances in total. There was an element of surprise in the first 15 performances, which popped up in diverse locations. All five operas were performed as a cycle in Dame Court, Dublin 2 at 7pm on Saturday 5th July.

Everyone’s life has its dramatic moments and Wide Open Opera has taken some of these arguments, conflicts and strange circumstances and made music out of them. Whether a surreal conversation between an ironing board and an iron, or a family argument in a pub these mini opera happenings will delight and stimulate audiences lucky enough to catch them.” Ray Yeates, Dublin City Arts Officer.

The Operas:

Suck it In: A group (chorus & principal singers) of smokers outside a building relish the 5-minutes of calm in the middle of crazy lives that the cigarettes give. Although they know it’s bad for their health, they celebrate the sense of community among smokers.

It’s Your Round: A father sings to his passed-out son sitting outside a pub. The father remembers carrying the boy as a child, savouring this memory, although he knows there will be trouble when he gets home to his wife.

Drive By Shooting: Two old women with zimmer frames pursue an old man with a zimmer frame who has been unfaithful to one of them. The women have a gun and are prepared to shoot him.

Banana Lady: The song of the woman who sells bananas from her pram on Capel Street

Ironing Board: A discarded ironing board and iron. The board (brought to life by a puppeteer) sings to the iron about better days in the past when they were the centre of life in a busy house, and had a passionate relationship. Now their best days are behind them.

Further programme information including venues can be found here:


Summer in the City: Street Opera greater than the sum of its parts’, Irish Examiner,

July 15, 2014

Fergus Sheil, Artistic Director of Wide Open Opera talks to Noel McGuinness – Podcast

‘Things We Throw Away’ – Video Footage

‘Drive-by Shooting - Things we throw away’ – Video Footage



Wide Open Opera is one of Ireland’s most dynamic opera companies, presenting a range of operatic experiences unique for Irish audiences. The award-winning opera company was founded in 2012 by Fergus Sheil and Gavin O’Sullivan. Wide Open Opera began its journey by performing one of the most ambitious operas of the entire operatic repertoire; Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre accompanied by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. It was a magnificent Irish debut, rapturously received with the opening night streamed live on Platform Ireland and viewed in 52 countries worldwide.

Further details about Wide Open Opera can be found here:

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Ray Yeates, Arts Officer, Dublin City Council
Commissioning process Commissioned as part of the Dublin City Public Art Programme
Project commission dates July 4, 2014 - July 5, 2014
Artform Opera
Art Practice Arts Participation
Funded By Dublin City Council
Percent for art Yes
Project commission start date 04/07/2014
Project commission end date 05/07/2014
Location Various Venues, Dublin City Centre
County Dublin
Town Dublin
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

The 5 short operas were performed in a range of public places in Dublin on Friday July 4th and Saturday 5th 2014

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Producers: Wide Open Opera

Artistic Director: Fergus Sheil

Composer: Brian Irvine

Writer: John McIlduff

Costume Design: Clodagh Deegan

Community Choir

RTÉ Concert Orchestra


Sylvia O’Brien (soprano)

Doreen Curran (mezzo)

Gerry Noonan (baritone)

Niamh Lawlor (puppeteer)




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