The Lily of Killarney, the second of three operas often grouped together,
and performed under the title "The Irish Ring," is a light opera in three
acts, by Sir Julius Benedict, who actually was not Irish at all, but rather
German, and a very respected composer who lived around the time of
Beethoven. The opera has a rather involved plot, which may be
one reason why it's not performed that often.
The estate of Hardress Cregan, our tenor, is financially troubled,
and foreclosure is iminent. To save the family home, it's
proposed that Hardress marry Anna, a rich woman.
However, it's discovered that Hardress is in reality, married to Eily, (the
Lily of Killarney,soprano), who actually has a lover, herself! Hardress's
close friend Danny Mann (baritone) suggests that he find a way to "get
rid of" Eily. At first Hardress refuses such an evil deed, but he's desperate,
so he finally agrees that he will send Danny his glove as a sign to "make
her disappear." Meanwhile, to insure that the deed is done, Danny takes
matters into his own hands, and tells Hardress's mother that if she sends
the glove, it will help matters, and they can save the estate. Being totally
innocent, she does this. Danny takes the glove to Eily, and tells her her
husband wants to see her. He rows Eily to a cave, and demands to see the
marriage certificate. When she refuses, he pushes her into the water.
Eily's lover happens to be nearby (!), shoots Danny, and saves Eily. Hardress
is arrested for murder, but on his deathbed, Danny confesses, and Hardress
reveals that he and Eily are truly married.
Although Benedict wrote several operas, The Lily of Killarney is the
only one really remembered, and still occasionally performed. It has
an elaborate score for a light opera. and is interspersed with Irish melodies,
which add a distinctive flavor. Probably the most famous piece from the
opera is the tenor's gorgeous aria "Eily Mavourneen," which Anthony
has sung at his solo concerts. Eily has a beautiful aria, "I'm Alone,"
and Danny and Hardress have a famous duet, "The Moon Has Raised
Her Lamp."In 2000, the first performance of the Irish Ring was presented
at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, starring Anthony Kearns, and
in 2002, Jim Molloy Promotions brought The Irish Ring to Carnegie
Hall, Lyric Opera in Baltimore, and The State Theatre, in New Jersey.
It again starred Anthony Kearns with Kathryn Smith, And baritone
Patrick Doherty as Danny.
The RDS is performing the operas one at a time, with Maritana first, and
The Lily of Killarney, starring Anthony Kearns, on June 23 and 24, 2007.
The Lily of Killarney
by Berta Calechman
Sir Julius Benedict