Equally at home in the classical and contemporary repertoire, Irish soprano Sylvia O’Brien has impressed audiences in opera, oratorio and chamber music. Her operatic roles include the Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Konstanze (Die Entfuhrung), Jenufa (Jenufa) and Turandot (title role). Her vocal and musical skills make her an important singer of contemporary repertoire, having performed works by Tristan Keuris, Gerald Barry, Louis Andriessen, Brian Irvine, Morton Feldman, Manos Tsangaris, Seóirse Bodley, Ian Wilson, Kevin O’Connell, Reymond Deane, Kaaija Saariaho, and Luigi Nono. In 2002, she was a resident performer at the Malkovich International Composers Competition and since has performed in many contemporary series, festivals and with many leading contemporary ensembles.
She has performed the one act opera Neither by Morton Feldman with the Helsinki Philhamonic conducted by Dmitry Slobodeniuk and with the National Symphony of Ireland premiere under conductor Stefan Asbury. In September 2008 she premiered a new work by Joseph Phibbs Silence at the Song’s End for soprano and string quartet, at the Jubilee Hall Aldeburgh. She has performed and recorded the role of Gabriel in the Naxos recording of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant by Gerald Barry. She has sung Lewis Carroll Poems by Matan Porat with the Nieuw European Ensemble in the Netherlands. In 2013, she performed the Irish premiere of Here (in circles) by Michel van der Aa with the Crash Ensemble conducted by Alan Pierson and in 2014 as part of the New Music Dublin Festival she sang Claude Vivier’s Lonely Child with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland conducted by Nicolas Cleobury., She has collaborated with a number of Irish composers including Colin Mawby, Seoirse Bodley, Raymond Deane, Siobhan Cleary, most notably the Irish composer Seóirse Bodley, with whom she has performed on many occasions. Her passion and commitment to new music has led her to investigate the world of Irish Contemporary Song and subsequent to her recent residency at the Contemporary Music Centre, Sylvia spent her time exploring the library collection of contemporary Irish vocal music.
She is currently touring with her recital ‘A Contemporary Voice’, an adventurous exploration of the rich tapas of contemporary Irish vocal repertoire. Sylvia is co-founder of EVLANA, an ensemble devoted to playing not only contemporary works but also work from the classical repertoire. She is presently pursuing a Doctorate in Performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music focusing on Irish vocal music.