A new Irish opera based on the story of James Joyce's masterpiece. Music by Eric Sweeney, Words by James Joyce, Adapted by Andrew Basquille
THE GENESIS OF ULYSSES: AN OPERA
The idea of adapting Ulysses as an opera has its genesis in my time spent volunteering in the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove. Joyce’s love of opera is well documented and he regularly attended operas wherever he lived. He had a fine tenor voice himself and loved singing ballads, arias and parlour songs.
I began working on the libretto in 2014. After a few months I felt it was time to find a composer. I didn’t know any personally. I paid a visit to the Contemporary Music Centre in Fishamble Street and explained my quest. I left with a bundle of CDs featuring the work of contemporary Irish composers. I listened to the CDs not really knowing how I might recognise a possible collaborator. When I heard Eric Sweeney’s piece I was immediately attracted.
By coincidence that evening on RTÉ radio an excerpt from Eric’s opera The Invader, which was being staged in the Wexford Opera House, was broadcast. I wrote to Eric and asked if I could meet him the following evening in Wexford.
I was enchanted by The Invader and I asked Eric after the show if I could send him my work in progress. Having read the opening episodes, he very kindly agreed to work together.