The Belfast Ensemble presents, The Headless Soldier, as part of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival, supported by The National Lottery

25th October, 2023

The award-winning Belfast Ensemble will premiere their upcoming production, ‘The Headless Soldier’, at the Lyric Theatre from 9-11 November. This captivating three-part operatic experience, a creation of Mark Ravenhill and Northern Irish composer, Conor Mitchell, is a co-production between The Belfast Ensemble and Outburst Queer Arts Festival, supported by The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Five people standing behind a piano and one person sitting on a stool at the piano.  Sheet music is on the piano.
The Outburst Queer Arts Festival returns from 9-18 Nov. Pictured (L-R) at rehearsals for The Headless Soldier are, opera singer, Sarah Richmond, Olivier award-winning conductor, Tom Deering, Arts Council NI Head of Music and Opera, Ciaran Scullion, opera singer, Ed Lyons, Outburst Arts Artistic Director, Ruth McCarthy, and The Belfast Ensemble composer, Conor Mitchell.

Watch the video taken at rehearsals below.

This poignant and thought-provoking work delves beneath the surface of a seemingly ideal life, revealing the hidden conflicts that lie much closer to home. With evocative storytelling and masterful composition, Mark Ravenhill and Arts Council NI Major Individual Artist award recipient, Conor Mitchell, explore the complexities of family dynamics, love, and the internal battles we all face.

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

“It’s thanks to The National Lottery players that the Arts Council of Northern Ireland is able to support this impressive production by The Belfast Ensemble at the 2023 Outburst Queer Arts Festival. These companies are pushing boundaries and creating work which is underpinned by important principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion. Congratulations to everyone involved!”

The new production marks a significant milestone as two of the UK’s most vital and influential queer voices unite to create a powerful narrative that promises to resonate with audiences of all backgrounds. Mark Ravenhill and Conor Mitchell, acclaimed for, ‘Abomination, a DUP Opera’ and ‘Mass’, bring their unique perspectives to the stage in a groundbreaking collaboration.

Composer Conor Mitchell said, 

“In ‘The Headless Soldier’ audiences can expect a three-part operatic experience that blends multimedia elements with live performances by international soloists and a chamber orchestra. This captivating combination of art forms promises to transport audiences into a world of emotion, tension, and discovery. Book your tickets now for an unforgettable evening of art, music, and emotion.”

Ruth McCarthy, Artistic Director of Outburst Arts and Outburst Queer Arts Festival, added, 

“This is the third collaboration between Outburst Arts and The Belfast Ensemble. It’s exciting that The Headless Soldier will be opening the 17th edition of our festival this year. This year’s festival features nine days of new queer work from all over the world but with a special emphasis on new work from Northern Ireland, which we’re really proud of. It’s thanks to The National Lottery through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland that this has been made possible.”

Don't miss your chance to witness this brand-new production as part of the 2023 Outburst Queer Arts Festival. For more information and ticket bookings, please visit: and for information on the Outburst Queer Arts Festival visit