About UsBlank mobile About UsBlank
About Us

About Us

About Us

Cork Opera House is southern Ireland’s premier arts venue for the best concerts, comedy, drama, dance, family fare, and, of course, opera. Located in the heart of Cork city, the Opera House has been a Cork cultural institution for more than 165 years and strives to present and produce both indigenous and international top class acts for the people of Cork and further afield. This is a building to be proud of and a building which is proud to be pure Cork.


Our Work

Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra

The Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra Picture: Shane J Horan

The Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra was founded in November 2015 to enhance the musical offering of Cork Opera House. The Orchestra has since played a very significant role in the music industry in Cork, and has formed a significant part of Cork Opera House’s artistic programme.

Since its foundation, the orchestra has undertaken numerous concert performances of classic operas with great Irish and international opera talent, as well as large-scale in-house productions such as the Right Here Right Now Festival, The Cork Proms, and our annual Christmas Concerts. This has allowed the Orchestra to work with many great Irish artists across a multitude of genres, often with original orchestrations by some of the most exciting orchestrators and arrangers in Ireland today.

Opera – Cara O’Sullivan Associate Artists Programme

Rory Dunne, Kelli-Ann Masterson, Dean Power and Niamh O’Sullivan
Picture: Miki Barlok

The late Cara O’Sullivan, one of Cork most iconic and beloved opera singers, was an exceptional coloratura soprano and a consistent presence on the Cork Opera House stage throughout her entire career. Time and time again, she brought her extraordinary talent to our audiences, her breath-taking voice and her infectious energy made every performance memorable. 

Cork Opera House has founded this programme in Cara’s memory to honour her contribution to her art form and acknowledge the great love her audience had for her. By honouring her life and work, we hope to contribute significantly to the future of opera in our city so that future generations can benefit from the legacy she left in her wake.

The Cara O’Sullivan Associate Artists Programme launched in 2021, and the first cohort of artists included sopranos Emma Nash and Rachel Croash, tenor Gavan Ring, and baritone Rory Musgrave. The programme brought these artists together for a number of special performances on Cork Opera House’s main stage, free performances in its foyer, and during Covid, outdoor performances on Emmet Place. The second cohort of artists, announced in Autumn 2023 comprises Kelli-Ann Masterson (Soprano), Dean Power (Tenor), Niamh O’Sullivan (Mezzo-Soprano), and Rory Dunne (Bass Baritone).

Theatre Artist-in-Residence

As part of our partnership with UCC, Cork Opera House jointly funds a Theatre Artist-in-Residence programme, which launched in 2019. This residency is designed to influence Cork Opera House’s theatre programming, but also to benefit the students of UCC’s Department of Theatre.

The first artist appointed was playwright and actor John McCarthy, who used his time throughout the residency to develop Whale, which premiered on the Cork Opera House stage during Cork Midsummer Festival in 2022.

In 2021, Cork Opera House and UCC put out a call for applications from neurodiverse theatre artists, and Jody O’Neill was appointed. In the first year of her residency, Jody has had a remarkable impact on both organisations. Jody provided essential guidance and consultancy for Cork Opera House’s first ever Relaxed Performance of our family Panto in 2022. She also curated the inaugural Neurofestivity, presented by Cork Opera House in collaboration with UCC’s Department of Theatre, which invited a number of emerging and established neurodiverse multi-disciplinary artists to participate in the first festival of its kind in Ireland.

The autistic Theatre Artist-in-Residence programme has recently been shortlisted for the first ever Business to Arts Creative Access Award supported by Community Foundation Ireland.

Jazz Artist-in-Residence

In 2023, Cork Opera House launched its Jazz Artist-in-Residence programme, appointing vocalist Laoise Leahy as its first artist. As part of this 1-year residency, Laoise will present a number of free concerts in the Cork Opera House Green Room, transforming the space into an intimate jazz club.

Blending a lifetime of eclectic influences, including artists such as Esperanza Spaulding, Laura Mvula, Beady Belle, Jazzmeia Horn, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Al Jerreau, Herbie Hancock, and many others, Laoise’s music weaves strands of jazz, soul, pop, blues, rock, and electro driven by lyrics concerned with human circumstances and experience, always approached with a spirit of realism, empathy, humour, and hope.


Cork Opera House has had a glorious history of both culture and architecture dating back to the 1850s. The original structure was designed by the much-celebrated architect Sir John Benson and built on Anglesea Street, where it would house the National Exhibition. Benson was a highly-sought after architect, and when the decision was made to relocate to Nelson Place (now Emmet Place), the original building was deconstructed brick-by-brick and rebuilt on Emmet Place.

Cork Opera House has had many identities in its near 170 year history. When first built, this beautiful structure was known as the Athenaeum. It went on to become The Munster Hall, The Great & Royal Opera House Company, and finally, Cork Opera House in 1877.

Cork Opera House continued to entertain the masses until the devastation of a fire in December 1955, during which most of the structure was lost. Letters of sympathy were written to the Board of Directors, staff and patrons from all over the country, and following a ten-year fundraising campaign, a modern theatre designed by Scott Tallon Walker was finished on the same site in 1965.

In 1993, a new front-of-house was designed by Murray Ó Laoire Architects for “a vision of the building which takes the architecture of Cork City into the 21st century”. Completed in 2000, the complex then included the main auditorium, two bars, corporate boxes, foyer, café and shop. Through recent years the management team has worked tirelessly to upgrade and consistently improve the building even further including new seating, a new café area, new acoustics, sightlines and of course state of the art equipment along with countless other upgrades, with the needs of the people of Cork as the impetus for all change.


Who Owns Cork Opera House?

Cork Opera House is a non-profit DAC with charitable status. Cork City Council is the largest shareholder, having acquired the controlling block of shares from the now dissolved Cork Theatre Trust. The Cork Theatre Trust, along with many private shareholders, rebuilt the Cork Opera House after the devastating fire in 1955 which destroyed the original Opera House established on the same site in 1855.