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Artist Development

Les Selenites WFO Artist-in-Residence Conor Mitchell

The Selenites
The chamber opera entitled Les Selenites will be given its premiere at the 2022 Festival this Autumn, but who or what are Les Selenites and what is this new commission all about? Composer Conor Mitchell's intriguing new work explores the bizarre world of 20th-century French film pioneer and stage illusionist Georges Méliès. Méliès began his career as a stage illusionist and was renowned for his use of innovative magical special effects and visual tricks, a skill he brought to his work in the burgeoning early 20th-century film industry.

Méliès most famous film, Le Voyage dans la lune (1902), was inspired by the science fiction novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. The landmark short film features one of the most iconic film images in early cinematic history, as the journeying spaceship collides with the eye of the Man in the Moon. In the film, the space travellers are briefly captured by moon aliens, Les Selenites, the mythical inhabitants of the moon who are said to hold the secrets to eternal life.

Mitchell has taken this fantastical world created by Méliès as the starting point for his chamber opera, merging the birth of cinema with dream-play and fantasy.

The piece will feature a quartet of soloists from The Wexford Factory young artists programme accompanied by a piano trio.

Conor Mitchell is an award-winning Northern Irish composer, librettist and theatre director and is one of the most exciting opera composers working in Ireland today.

A recipient of the Arts Council Northern Ireland Major Individual Artist’s Award, Mitchell was appointed WFO Artist-in-Residence in 2022. He is the second composer to be appointed as part of the scheme that began in 2019 and aims to provide an opportunity to contribute something contrasting to the Wexford programme.

Mitchell is the founder and Artistic Director of The Belfast Ensemble. His chamber opera Abomination: a DUP Opera was awarded Best Opera Production 2020 Irish Times Theatre Awards. Other compositions include Concertino for Flute & Orchestra; opera Our Day (NI Opera); the children’s opera The Musician, Shadow Time (London Gay Men’s Chorus, Royal Festival Hall), Cabaret Songs for Britten 100 (Aldeburgh); Ten Plagues (Royal Court, Traverse Theatre).


Premiere of new commission Les Selenites by WFO Artist-in-Residence Conor Mitchell

Performances: 26 October, 6 November 2022

Meet The Composer event, 26 October post performance

Book Tickets here