Fergus Sheil is a conductor and producer of opera based in Ireland. He is artistic director of Irish National Opera since the company’s foundation in 2018.
As conductor, Fergus Sheil has led many of Irish National Opera’s signature productions including Verdi’s Aida (2018), Brian Irvine and Netia Jones’ Least Like The Other (2019), Rossini’s La Cenerentola (2019), half of 20 Shots of Opera (2020), Strauss Elektra (2021), Beethoven Fidelio (2021), Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda (2022), Rossini’s William Tell (2022) and Strauss Der Rosenkavalier (2023).
Before 2018, he worked as Artistic Director of both Wide Open Opera and Opera Theatre Company (both of which became part of Irish National Opera). With these companies he conducted Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (2012), Raymond Deane’s The Alma Fetish (2013), John Adams’ Nixon in China (2014), Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (2014), Verdi’s Rigoletto (2015), Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (2016), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (2016) and Robert O’Dwyer’s Eithne (2017)– the first modern performance of the first opera composed in the Irish language (1909) which was released on CD on the RTÉ lyric fm label.
“Fergus Sheil conducted as to the manor born, paced the music with sensitive care, secured near-perfect balances between voices and orchestra, and coaxed from the RTÉ NSO some of the finest playing ever heard from them in the opera pit.” (The Irish Times)
In the orchestral sphere Fergus Sheil has conducted many performances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra. Repertoire has included tours of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 Choral and Mahler’s Symphony No 2 Resurrection.
As a choral conductor Fergus collaborated with composer Arvo Pärt and the State Choir Latvija including the world première of Pärt’s The Deer’s Cry in 2008. He subsequently appeared with State Choir Latvija throughout Ireland with Pärt’s music in 2010. In 2013 he toured Ireland with the BBC Singers with Seven Last Words from the Cross by James MacMillan.
As well as performances at home in Ireland, Fergus has also undertaken engagements in the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, UK, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Malta and Estonia.
“Sheil directed the orchestra with great expressiveness and drew superb performances from his singers.” (Opera)
Fergus Sheil’s work as Artistic Director of opera has had many significant highpoints. He was a leading figure in the foundation of Irish National Opera in 2018 and has overseen an unprecedented programme of work in live performances, digital projects, audio recordings and filmed operas. He has produced 78 different operas, including works by major composers from Vivaldi to Wagner and 41 works by living composers.
Operas produced by Fergus Sheil have been performed throughout Ireland as well as in the UK (Royal Opera House London, Barbican London, Edinburgh International Festival), Holland (Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ as part of Dutch National Opera’s Opera Forward Festival), New York (St Anne’s Warehouse as part of Prototype Festival) and Luxembourg (Les théâtres de la Ville). CD recordings have been made for RTÉ lyric fm, Cantaloupe Music and Signum Records. Awards for opera productions have included Olivier Award, Fedora Prize, Fedora Digital Prize, Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards and Allianz Business to Arts Best use of Creativity in the Community Award.