BAM to Present Opera About the Irish Famine

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The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will present two performances of an opera that tackles the social injustices of the Irish famine head on.

Hunger, written by Donnacha Dennehy, is based on first-hand counts of the Great Famine. The Brooklyn performances will feature the ensemble Alarm Will Sound, signed to the prestigious contemporary music label Nonsuch, as well as the acclaimed Irish folk singer Iarla Ó Lionáird

The Great Famine occurred roughly between 1845 and 1852, and claimed up to a million lives. An additional million is thought to have emigrated at this time, primarily to the United States.

Hunger features text inspired by the work of Asenath Nicholson – an American protestant writer who traveled the Emerald isle during this dark time period. In addition to documenting the plight of the Irish, Nicholson provided aid that has been attributed with saving hundreds.

The multi-media performances scheduled for BAM will include video projections featuring influential economists and political commentators, including Paul Krugman and Noam Chomsky.

The social justice dimensions of the Irish Famine were immense. The British government – which controlled Ireland at the time –  redirected Irish crops abroad. While potato harvests failed, other “money crops” thrived, including oats and barley. Financial interests in England, however, mandated that these crops fulfill their economic intent, leaving Irish living on the very soil that generated them to starve.

The show will show on September 30 and October 1.

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