Funding, Organisations

New opera, ‘Nobody/Somebody’, premieres at the Belfast Children’s Festival

3rd March, 2023

Northern Ireland Opera will premiere a powerful new teen/young adult opera, ‘Nobody/Somebody’, written by award-winning playwright Fionnuala Kennedy and composed by Neil Martin, at the Belfast Children’s Festival from 3 March at Belfast’s Elmwood Hall.

Large group of people standing outside smiling at camera with two young musicians are pictured with a violin and a cello.
Pictured at rehearsals are (L_R) Paula Klein, Ulster Youth Orchestra (UYO), Ellen Cowan (Viola, UYO), Finn Kennedy, librettist, Ciaran Scullion, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Neil Martin, composer, Heidi White (cellist, UYO), Sinead O’Kelly, mezzo-soprano, David Corr, baritone, Matthew Quinn, Musical Director, Laura Salt, NI Opera and Eibhlín de Barra, Belfast Children’s Festival.

Nobody/Somebody’ has been inspired by the youth activists of the PPR organisation who have been campaigning and raising awareness about homelessness, housing stress and the lack of available social housing for young people in Belfast. The opera was commissioned by Northern Ireland Opera with funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland during the pandemic and from the outset has been designed around giving young people involvement in the production and performance of the work. There will be five performances of ‘Nobody/Somebody’ from 3-5 March, featuring NI Opera’s emerging artists and the Ulster Youth Orchestra.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music and Opera at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said:

“The Arts Council is proud to support ‘Nobody/Somebody’. At the very heart of this ambitious new production will be the voices and opinions of the young people who have inspired the work. Written and composed by two hugely talented artists, Fionnuala Kennedy and Neil Martin, produced by NI Opera, with performances by players from the Ulster Youth Orchestra, this landmark production will be one not to be missed when it makes its premiere at this year’s Belfast Children’s Festival.”

The creative team includes Director, Andrea Ferran, and Music Director, Matthew Quinn. Andrea Ferran said,

“Northern Ireland Opera and Cameron Menzies have an incredible track record of commissioning new music, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with young people in Belfast on the premiere of this timely new opera. Housing stress, the cost-of-living crisis and financial precariousness are social injustices demanding our urgent attention. I’m excited to collaborate with Fionnuala Kennedy and Neil Martin to bring these important issues to the stage.”

Eibhlín de Barra, Director of the Belfast Children’s Festival, added,

“After having featured in Belfast Children’s Festival 2022, as a work in development performance, we are thrilled to include Nobody/Somebody in our programme for 2023, our 25th anniversary. As well as entertaining our audiences, we aim to acknowledge and address some of the issues being faced by wider society through festival performances. Using the real-life stories of young people and writer Finn Kennedy, Nobody/Somebody has placed young people in the driving seat to share their own lived experience and we look forward to the conversations and debates it will no doubt promote.”

NI Opera employed Youth Counterparts to work alongside each key creative role in the production. To select these young people, NI Opera worked with Belfast-based charity, Springboard, to identify young adults with an interest in creative careers who may previously have faced barriers to developing skills and their exploring options in the arts.

While this new opera has grown out of the inspiring work of the PPR activists in Belfast, the story it tells about housing stress and the effect this has on the wellbeing of young people is something which will be familiar to young people across the world. Northern Ireland Opera is planning a tour of the production and are looking for partners in the UK and beyond to ensure that this exciting and important new work reaches as wide an audience as possible.

Tickets for ‘Nobody/Somebody’ can be bought at

Find out more about the Belfast Children’s Festival at