The US diplomat chairing talks on outstanding contentious issues in Northern Ireland has unwound with some opera in an unlikely venue.
At the end of his first week of meeting political, business and church leaders in Belfast, Dr Richard Haass took time out on Friday night to sample the city’s nightlife – including the novel initiative of an operatic performance in an iconic pub.
The American envoy joined hundreds of other opera fans for the evening of ‘operatic drinking songs’ – with performers from NI Opera’s Young Artists’ programme –in the John Hewitt.
Speaking afterwards he said the experience was “simply wonderful” and added: “Opera in a pub – what’s not to like?”
NI Opera’s artistic director Oliver Mears said: “In the space of just a few days we’ll be going from singing in a pub to starting a tour of L’Elisir d’Amore with the Ulster Orchestra, and we’re proud to be able to put on performances as different as these.
“We believe really strongly that opera should be for everyone, and judging by the crowds in the John Hewitt this evening and the queues that stretched down Donegall Street, we’ve struck a real chord here.”
Over the course of the ‘Culture Night’ in the city, Dr Haass also heard a Johnny Cash tribute act and Hyland Paddy at Fibber Magee’s.