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A show about Augusta Holmès and her inspiration, Richard Wagner

22 September


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Image courtesy Gráinne Gillis

Image courtesy Gráinne Gillis

Wagner/Holmès is a show about the nineteenth-century Irish-French female composer Augusta Holmès and the influence that Richard Wagner had on her life and music from the age of 13. It’s a new work created and performed by Irish-American actress, writer and contralto Gráinne Gillis, who is building a reputation for bringing classical music into accessible formats.

Woven together with spoken word and some of the greatest music by the two composers, the show is a love letter to neglected female composers like Holmès, those who inspire us to break new ground, and to the Irish diaspora – both past and present.

Gráinne Gillis is an Irish-American contralto praised by The Observer as having a voice with “rich, dramatic potential” and for her clarity of diction as well as her “vibrant and bright tones” by Opera Now.

Career highlights have included singing Madame Flora in Menotti’s The Medium, the Mother in Hansel and Gretel, and Pierrot Lunaire, all at Grimeborn; working with Sir Peter Hall on a sold-out US tour of As You Like It; and three seasons with Pavilion Opera on Die Zauberflöte, Macbeth and La Traviata.

Roles in 2022 included working on a new opera called Morrigan at the Cork Opera House, as well as singing the She-Ancient for Regent’s Opera in Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage in April 2022. She narrated, co-composed and sang on a soundscape project, Utterances I, commemorating the women who founded the Irish Free State. In 2022, Gráinne also performed at WAF 2022 in London with two shows (Mezzo Sings the Bard and The Contralto Cabaret) under the umbrella term ‘Process: Dress’.

In 2023 Gráinne has sung the role of Schwertleite in Regent’s Opera Die Walküre (this will continue in 2024 with a full Ring Cycle). She also worked with soprano Laure Meloy and Femme Lunatique on a concert project called Disturbing the Peace and sang Emilia to Nadine Benjamin MBE’s Desdemona in a recital about Shakespeare in music in London.


Studio Knutson
Ahornstraße 6
12163 Berlin

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