This globally renowned opera festival is a chance to explore Wexford town and enjoy a musical day out …
Main featured image: © WFO2021 Edmea Clive Barda/ArenaPAL.
As one of Europe’s most prestigious opera festivals, Wexford Festival Opera, now in its 72nd year, provides an opportunity for visitors of all ages to enjoy a musical day out. Held in venues across Wexford town, this year the Festival programme features 70 events over 13 days from October 24 to November 5.
Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi’s 2023 programme is built around the theme of women and war and will feature three main operas: Zoraida di Granata, L’Aube rouge and La Ciociara. Each work highlights a different aspect of the struggles women face; in conflict, fighting prejudice and in making their voices heard. Three very different female characters are presented, yet each is fighting for something.
Zoraida di Granata by Gaetano Donizetti (1822) follows the experience of a woman drawn into war against her will, in a battle to save her love. Irish soprano Claudia Boyle will sing the title role.
L’Aube rouge by Camille Erlanger (1911) is set in France and Russia and follows the story of Olga, who strives to save her partner Serge, who has abandoned morality believing that change can be forced through bloodshed. The lovers inevitably meet a tragic fate.
La Ciociara by Marco Tutino (2015) is inspired by Alberto Moravia’s novel based on true events. Tutino’s contemporary opera follows a mother trying to shield her daughter from the horrors of warfare in the aftermath of the Battle of Monte Cassino at the end of the WWII. The iconic 1960 film adaptation, directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring Sophia Loren in an Oscar-winning portrayal, will be screened on the day of each performance. The roles of both mother and daughter will be sung by Na’ama Goldman.
© WFO2022 Lalla Roukh Clive Barda/ArenaPAL.
For novices to opera and the festival, highly recommended are the popular Daytime Events packages. This taste of WFO can be enjoyed over a few hours in Wexford without staying overnight. Enjoy a lunchtime recital, followed by lunch at Clayton Whites Hotel and a Pocket Opera in the afternoon performed in the Jerome Hynes Theatre in the National Opera House.
Both pocket operas, directed by Heather Hadrill and Grace Morgan, continue the female theme. La fille du régiment by Gaetano Donizetti (1840), a much loved comic opera, follows the story of an orphan girl adopted by a regiment of soldiers. Puccini’s beautiful score in Suor Angelica (1918) is about one woman’s ultimate sacrifice when caught in circumstances enforced upon her by both her family and society.
Other treats during the festival are the popular Pop-Up Events, which involve WFO artists performing in spontaneous music and theatrical moments in unexpected locations around the town. It’s an essential part of the festival experience, with free admission too.
A first this year is an immersive community opera – Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini, (1918). The Grain Store at Stonebridge, just off Wexford’s Quay front, is the setting for this new version of Gianni Schicchi which has been developed with dialogue written by Timothy Knapman. During the opera, the audience will move with the action, experiencing the opera by being a part of it themselves!
Two events, also inspired by women include the “Impossible Interview” with Michael Dervan. He “interviews” Florence Nightingale, the British nurse, statistician, and social reformer whose efforts formalised nursing education and the establishment of the first scientifically-based nursing school.
Lara Marlowe, foreign correspondent for the Irish Times, will deliver the annual Dr Tom Walsh lecture, on November 3. Her subject will be “From Innocent Victims to Daring Warriors: Real-life Stories of Women in War.” This will take in her considerable 40-year experience reporting on wars in Afghanistan, Algeria, the Central African Republic, Iraq, the Israeli-occupied territories, Lebanon, Somalia, former Yugoslavia and, most recently, Ukraine.
Finally, a highlight of the festival is the unmissable Gala Concert, which will feature favourite party pieces from members of the festival company conducted by and performed by the Wexford Festival Orchestra. This takes place on Sunday, October 29 in O’Reilly Theatre, National Opera House.
While the diverse programme unfolds, it’s a chance for visitors to explore Wexford town and all of its many cultural and culinary experiences too. Visit these links for ideas on where to stay and where to eat.
Need to know: Booking for 72nd Wexford Festival Opera is now open. For more information visit: www.wexfordopera.com.
Follow this link for a chance to WIN a VIP Wexford Festival Opera experience for two this autumn.