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21 to 24 February 2024

The Juniper Tree

Music by Philip Glass and Robert Moran, Libretto by Arthur Yorinks

‘The Juniper Tree’ is based on a famous Grimm’s fairytale, in which a jealous stepmother murders her stepson and serves him up in a stew to his unsuspecting father.

In this gripping story of revenge and redemption, the boy’s stepsister buries her stepbrother’s bones under a juniper tree where his mother is buried, from where the child’s spirit returns as a singing bird who wreaks vengeance on his wicked stepmother before being restored to life in the bosom of his family.

This new production will be directed by Northern Ireland Opera’s Artistic Director Cameron Menzies.  Most of the cast are drawn from Northern Ireland Opera’s prestigious Artist Development Programmes and the NI Opera Chorus Programme, which you can find out about by clicking here.

About the Story

“The Juniper Tree” can be found in the first volume of the Brothers Grimm’s famous collection, titled “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”, which was first published in 1812. This dark, magical tale explores themes of death, transformation, and redemption. The source of this folktale can be traced back to various European traditions and has various versions in different cultures.

About the Opera

Philip Glass and fellow composer Robert Moran collaborated in equal measure on the composition of ‘The Juniper Tree’. A Glass scene is followed by a Moran scene, with transitions composed by each, and the result is a fascinating hybrid, each composer holding on to his own identity while melding with the other. The opera had its world premiere in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1985.

Philip Glass is one of America’s most significant living composers of opera and film, including work on the scores for ‘The Hours’, ‘The Truman Show’, ‘Notes on a Scandal’ and ‘Fantastic Four’.

Music by Philip Glass & Robert Moran
Libretto by Arthur Yorinks
© 1985 Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc. Used by Permission.

Production Photography by Neil Harrison Photography

  • Thank you to our Principal Funder, The Arts Council of Northern Ireland who visited us in rehearsals for ‘The Juniper Tree’ – find out more by clicking here.
  • We are grateful for funding from The Garrick Club Charitable Trust which supports some of the training for the Artist Development Programme. Many of the cast for ‘The Juniper Tree’ are drawn from this programme and will benefit from this generous support. To find out more about our Artist Development Programme click here.
  • We are also delighted to be able to invite some of our community partners to watch the dress rehearsal for ‘The Juniper Tree’.  This participation is made possible through our Outreach Programme for which we have received generous support from the Garfield Weston Foundation.




'Looks as good as it sounds.' Four Stars

Read The Stage review here


The Husband
James Cooper

The Wife
Mary McCabe

The Son/The Juniper Bird
Rachael Heater

The Step-Mother
Jenny Bourke

The Daughter
Petra Wells

The Goldsmith
Paul McQuillan

The Cobbler
Ryan Garnham

The Miller
Desmond Havlin

Mama Bird
Niamh Lavery

Sarah Hoben

Alice Johnston

Carla Murphy

Naomi Cantley

Stephen Rusk

Creative Team

Cameron Menzies

Musical Director/Piano
Frasier Hickland

Alan McClure

Double Bass
Ricky Matson

Colin Irvine

Anne Harper

Tanya Houghton

Frasier Hickland

Movement Director
Jennifer Rooney

Costume Design
Arlene Riley

Hair and Make-Up Design
Nuala Campbell

Set/Lighting Design
Cameron Menzies

Lighting Programmer
Anne Marie Langan

Stage Manager
Deirbhile Larkin

Partners and Sponsors