Home Limerick People Interviews New production to celebrate life of Limerick soprano Catherine Hayes

New production to celebrate life of Limerick soprano Catherine Hayes

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Nicknamed ‘The Madonna of her day”, Catherine Hayes is
perhaps the most famous performer Limerick has ever produced on a global stage.
A classical soprano, Hayes was born on 4 Patrick Street in Limerick and by the
end of her career had travelled the globe performing in some of the most famous
venues.
However, her years of performance activity in the mid-1800’s
leave us with no actual audio recordings and perhaps this is why her name has
somewhat faded into the annals of history.

This is set to change over the next few months as a
well-known Limerick duo prepare to collaborate on a theatre production that
will celebrate the life, career and music of Limerick’s most successful
classical music export.
Mike Finn
(Pigtown, Killinaskully, The Unlucky Cabin Boy) and Limerick soprano Sarah
Dolan are currently working on the creation of ‘Nightingale’, a project that
aims to re-introduce the life and work of Catherine Hayes to a local, national
and international audience.
Production on Nightingale is planned for 2017 with a
fundraising concert to help support the show’s development taking place in St
Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday 9th June.
Speaking from Seattle where she is currently based, Sarah
Dolan says that concept for the show has been one she has wanted to develop for
many years.
“I have always felt that the life of Catherine Hayes should
be celebrated in some way”, she tells me.
“She is such a special part of Limerick history and I believe
she deserves to recognised on a global stage. Hayes lived long before the time
of audio recording so we have no actual understanding of what she sounded like.
However, we have a deep knowledge of the repertoire she was renowned for and the
fact that she gained fame on a global level”.
Sarah Dolan studied at the Conservatory of Music in Dublin
and studied for her Masters at the Conservatory of Music in San Francisco where
she received the prestigious James H Schwabacher Jr Scholarship.
Sarah’s classical career has taken her to stages in Europe
and America were one of her performances was noted as “a moving, authentic
vocal interpretation of, ‘The Last Rose of Summer’” by the Washington Times.
Limerick audiences will remember Sarah from her performance
as part of the open air Proms in the Park which took place during Limerick’s year
as National City of Culture in 2014. A daughter of well-known musical promoters Mick and Valerie Dolan, Sarah has been immersed in the world of musical
performance all her life.
Sarah Dolan
“In her day
Catherine Hayes was considered an operatic superstar”, Sarah notes. “Perhaps
she was most known for her concert repertoire and the fact that she introduced
a lot of Irish classical repertoire to the United States, California in
particular”.
Catherine Hayes visited California during the famous gold
rush. In fact, her tour was backed by the well-known circus promoter PT Barnum.
Her California performances were received so well that one review noted her
voice: “broke forth in notes
of most bewitching sweetness and harmony. The excitement of the audience
increased to a furious extent, no doubt with proud ratification that they had
heard for once in their lives, the voice that had awakened the admiration of
the western world
”.
Catherine Hayes was held in such high regard that the town
of Grass Valley in California has Kate Hayes St, named after the performer
herself. She died in 1861 and is buried in Kensal Green in London. Her grave
was restored with the help of Limerick Civic Trust in 2007.
The St Mary’s Cathedral concert fundraiser will feature
some of the music that Catherine Hayes is most associated with. Audiences can expect aria that Catherine
Hayes would have been associated with along with song pieces that were actually
composed for her. A mix of operatic and classical Irish repertoire.
Colette Davis will act as musical director on the evening
with support coming from the Voices of Limerick, harpist Aisling Lyons and some
special guests.
Tickets for the concert can be
purchased at www.uch.ie or www.dolans.ie or alternatively by contacting University
Concert Hall at 061-331549 or Dolans ticketline on 061-314483. For more
information on Sarah Dolan go to www.sarahdolansoprano.com

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