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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: The Opera 'Shamus O'Brien' by C.V. Stanford: Concept, Analysis and Cultural Context
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Paul McNulty
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2013
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (74pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library
Abstract: With a catalogue of over two hundred compositions Charles Villiers Stanford is amongst Ireland's most prolific composers. His catalogue includes compositions in a myriad of genres including orchestral, choral, sacred, organ works, solo songs, part songs and opera. Since his death in 1924 his repertory has fallen out of use and into obscurity. With the exception of his 'Service in B-flat' and the choral part song 'The Blue Bird' very little of his work is performed with any regularity. Among the most interesting and most neglected items in his catalogue of compositions are his operas. Opera was the genre in which Stanford sought success above all others. The only great success that he achieved in this medium was with his Irish opera, 'Shamus O'Brien' (1896).

'Shamus O'Brien' is among a handful of operas with an Irish theme, written by an Irish composer, featuring Irish music in the score. It was hugely successful in its time and toured the English speaking world to great acclaim. Today, less that hundred years since the death of its comosers it has all but been forgotten.

The focus of this MMus research is Stanford's attraction to the operatic medium; his career in opera; the success of his comic masterpiece 'Shamus O'Brien' and its eventual demise/ Research included detailed study of the development of Stanford's mature style of composition and most especially the Irish aspect of that style; the development of the opera's story - from ballad to libretty; sourcing an orchestral recording as no orchestral score was available; and full musical analysis of the work.

The primary conclusion of this study is that although the opera 'Shamus O'Brien' cannot be considered cutting edge in comparison with some of its European contemporaries, it is still a work of great musical, cultural and historial importance, especially to Ireland. Its saga - from concept to neglect - is a particularly interesting one. It is a work worthy of study and perhaps, someday, revival.

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