A Northern Ireland Opera production, Grand Opera House Belfast

September 2023

Director: Cameron Menzies

Conductor: Eduardo Strausser

Set designer: Niall McKeever  

Costume Designer: Gillian Lennox

Lighting Designer: Ciarán Bagnall

Set construction: Lyric Scene Shop

Head of construction: Aidan Payne

Photography by Philip Magowan (Press Eye) and Neil Harrison 


'Niall McKeever’s sets, with atmospheric lighting by Ciaran Bagnall, deliver the industrial future with a different platform in each act: one on which Cavaradossi can paint what appears to be the church’s dome on its side, one for Scarpia’s meal on a contemporary table and chairs in act two, and one for the gallows in act three'


'No Northern Ireland Opera review would be complete without a few words on the production. Niall McKeever’s intelligent stage set repeats certain structural elements while giving each act a distinct look. The large circular frame hosting a detail from Cavaradossi’s portrait of the Madonna in Act 1 recurs as part of Scarpia’s apartment, where it frames an image of a naked female in bondage.'


'When you get the right team of creative artists and performers, what can be achieved in a tough environment is something that just blows one away. What Menzies has done here is remarkable for its ambition, staging, production and casting. One of the greatest successes was Niall McKeever's set, built around the simplicity of two L-shaped scaffolding frames either side of the stage and a central dom, which in Act 1 depicts the church, returning in Act 3 as a frame for the gallows. In Act 2 the scaffolding remains but centre stage is a torture chamber beneath a dining room.'


'The task facing set designer Niall McKeever and his team was significant, but one clearly relished as the old-world charm of artfully sculpted basilica, giant frescos, wooden scaffolding and the church’s glittering symbolism clash with the stark and soulless architecture of modernity. There is only one Rome, but oppressive authoritarianism devoid of soul looks much alike anywhere.'


Using Format