Friday, 24 October 2014

Wexford Festival Opera 2015.

The 64th Wexford Festival Opera will take place from October 21 until November 1, 2015.  The three operas, to be performed at The National Opera House will be;

Koanga by Frederick Delius
Guglielmo Ratcliff  by Pietro Mascagni
Le Pré aux clercs by Ferdinand Hérold

Booking dates and additional information will be available shortly.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Wexford Opera House recognised as Ireland's National Opera House

Wexford Opera House has been officially recognised as Ireland’s National Opera House by the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Minister Heather Humphreys made the historic announcement at the official opening of the 63rd Wexford Festival Opera.  The Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys announced the renaming of the internationally award-winning Wexford Opera House as Ireland’s National Opera House in front of an estimated 18,000 people who lined the quay-front of Wexford at the official opening of the 63rd Wexford Festival Opera.
Before attending the Festival’s gala premiere performance as the guest of honour, Minister Humphreys took centre stage in the now officially recognised National Opera House and addressed the opening night capacity audience to confirm this major development, saying, “I am honoured to have been asked to open the Wexford Festival Opera, the centerpiece of Wexford’s cultural calendar. And I am delighted to be able to give my full support tonight to the renaming of Wexford Opera House as The National Opera House. I have asked my officials to work with Wexford and the Arts Council to put this into effect, in recognition of Wexford’s position as the home of Ireland’s only custom built Opera House

The Wexford Opera House is Ireland’s only acoustically purpose-built Opera House, and it has been a major addition to our cultural infrastructure since the state-of-the-art building was opened in 2008. The Irish people, through funding from my Department, have invested  more than €31 million in this Opera House, and I think it is fitting that it is renamed The National Opera House.

The new title means that the National Opera House will be Ireland’s sole nationally recognised Opera House, given its unique characteristics and the very specific acoustic and design criteria which it fulfils as Ireland’s only purpose-build Opera House.  As a result, Ireland will no longer be the only country in the EU, and further afield in Europe, to no longer possess a National Opera House. The enhanced national status and state endorsement is recognition of not just the significance of this major addition to the nation’s cultural infrastructure, but also of the people of Ireland’s prior investment, via the Department of Arts, as the predominant funder of the state-of-the-art facility’s redevelopment.

Responding to the tremendous announcement, Chief Executive David McLoughlin, said, “This landmark development of official recognition of Ireland’s National Opera House will help secure a legacy in opera in Ireland for generations to come, but perhaps more importantly deservedly recognises the State’s previous significant investment in the creation of what has been internationally acclaimed as ‘the best small opera house in the world’.”
Wexford Opera House officially opened in 2008 and remains Ireland’s only custom-built Opera House, winning numerous national and international architectural awards as a result.  It is a year-round cultural receiving house for opera and also for multi-disciplinary performance art-forms, and is the home of Wexford Festival Opera, one of the leading opera Festivals in the world, each year attracting audiences from home and abroad who travel to Wexford to experience this unique celebration of opera.

Renowned for its presentation of rarely performed operas, the Festival also provides audiences with a unique opportunity to experience performances from leading names and emerging talent in opera from Ireland and around the world.  Winner of many awards, including Best Rediscovered Work at this year’s International Opera Awards in London, and also nominated in three other categories including: Best Festival, alongside the New York Met, Salzburg and Glyndebourne; Best Chorus; and Best young singer (Helena Dix for her performance in ‘Cristina’).  The world-class venue, now officially recognised as Ireland’s National Opera House, is as a result better placed than ever to heighten the awareness of Irish opera production, at home and abroad, and further develop this culturally and economically important art-form for Ireland’s benefit as a result.
This year’s Festival runs until 2 November, and features three main stage operas:  Salomé by Antoine Mariotte (1875-1944), a rarely-performed operatic version of Oscar Wilde’s play; Don Bucefalo by Antonio Cagnoni (1828-1896), a delightfully good-humoured comic opera, an opera within an opera; and the European Premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night, set against the backdrop of WWI. American Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell will attend the European premiere performance and both will also deliver this year’s Dr. Tom Walsh Lecture the morning after the premiere.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Living life on the edge !

Tomer Zvulun and Michael Christie at the Cliffs of Moher
Have you ever wondered what the visiting artists working at the Wexford Festival do on their rare days off work ? Some will use the time for a little rest and relaxation, while others will use the time to explore Wexford, its environs and beyond.

Last weekend some members of the creative time behind Silent Night decided to take a road trip, and visited the stunning Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland. Pictured we see director Tomer Zvulun and conductor Michael Christie in their best Tosca leap pose at the edge of the cliffs! You will be glad to know that they are safely back in Wexford. Having been re-invigorated by the beautiful scenery and bracing Atlantic air, the team are very busy putting the final touches on what promises to be an unforgettable show.

Erhard Rom, the set designer took the photo, and decided in the interests of self-preservation to stay away from the edge, leaving that to the more adventurous members of the creative team !


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Dramatic story lines married to wonderful music

With just eight days to go before the start of the 2014 Wexford Festival Opera, excitement is mounting. The cast and crew are putting the finishing touches to our productions, our army of volunteers is preparing to hit the streets of Wexford, and tickets are flying off the shelves.
I’m often asked how I pick the three main stage operas. Is there a particular theme or strategy? My answer is simple. What I look for is excellence: a strong, dramatic storyline married to wonderful music, and the chance to introduce audiences to a work they might never have heard of, but that richly deserves to be heard. They’re simple but demanding criteria, and this year all three of our main stage operas more than fulfil them.
Watch my latest video log here around this year's operas and read on to find out more about Don Bucefalo  Silent Night and Salomé.

Few people will have heard of Antonio Cagnoni, or his masterpiece, Don Bucefalo, but anyone who’s seen the TV series Glee will find the storyline familiar: a singing teacher tries to put on an opera in a small town. It’s a delightful comedy full of high jinks and silliness, but also replete with beautiful music, and it continues our long tradition of staging the best in 19th century Italian comedy at Wexford.

In a year in which all our thoughts have turned, inevitably, to the First World War, what better time to stage the European premiere of Kevin Puts’ opera Silent Night? Set in the trenches over Christmas 1914, Silent Night is based on the celebrated moment when Scottish, French and German troops laid down their arms and came together to sing carols, play football, and share photographs of their loved ones back home, discovering a common humanity that the horror of war had tried to expunge. It’s a deeply moving piece about our common humanity and the possibilities of reconciliation, even in the darkest times, and rightly won Puts a Pulitzer Prize in 2011. I hope you’ll join us at Wexford to experience it.

Opera lovers may be surprised to find a Salomé on this year’s programme. For more than a century Richard Strauss’s opera has been widely regarded as the definitive version of this beguiling Biblical tale. But the version written, almost simultaneously, by French composer Antoine Mariotte is long overdue a revival. Based on the original French version of Oscar Wilde’s play, it’s a radically different take on the story infused with wild passion and extraordinary music.

That’s far from all. We also have a wonderful array of ShortWorks featuring composers from Puccini to Gilbert and Sullivan, plus talks, film screenings, concerts and more, so join us at Wexford Festival Opera for another 12 days of extraordinary music and performance from some of the brightest talents on the international opera stage. Tickets for all our shows are selling fast. To book yours, call 1850 4 OPERA or visit
David Agler

Artistic Director
Wexford Festival Opera

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The countdown is on !

With just under two weeks until the opening of the 63rd Wexford Festival, reherasals are in full swing, the Opera House is a hive of activity, and excitement levels are beginning to rise !
This year we have yet another fantastic programme to offer. Our 3 main stage operas are Salomé by French composer Antoine Mariotte, Don Bucefalo by the Italian, Antonio Cagnoni, and the European premiere of Silent Night by American composer Kevin Puts. We also have a wide range of ShortWorks, concerts, and recitals to chose from. All the details about this year's event can be found on our website 
If for some strange reason you have forgotten to book your tickets for this year's event, don't panic, there is still time; but you need to act fast as the few remaining tickets are selling quickly. There are a number of ways to book your tickets.

You can access our online booking system and select the performances you wish to attend. Also you can telephone the box office on +353 53 912 2144, and our team will be delighted to assist you with your booking. 

And if the excitement is getting too much, here is a peek at what you can expect when you get here

See you soon !


Friday, 3 October 2014

A note about this blog

This Wexford Festival blog was created to generate interest and share information about the 2014 event, as well as highlight the work and history of the Wexford Festival, and the many people who help make it the unique event that it is.
Wexford Festival Opera  is a place of artistic freedom and expression; a place where consideration for one another and our individual opinions about issues can be freely discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
In keeping with this, all blog posts are open for comments from anybody who wishes to do so. However, any comments that are rude, are attacks on individuals, or not pertinent to the work of the Festival, will be removed.

Silent Night- Seeking humanity in WAR.

From the first moment that I listened to “Silent Night”, I felt that it deeply touched a personal side in me. Kevin Puts’ music along with Mark Campbell’s libretto uniquely captures the dichotomy of love and WAR and creates a world that is both specific and universal at once. It captures the humanity of the characters and the comforts that friendship and music bring to the bloodiest and most inexplicable of all human experiences- WAR.
As an Israeli, I know WAR very intimately. It was around ever since I remember myself. From the Lebanon WAR in my childhood in the 1980s through the Intifada and the suicide bombings in the streets of Tel Aviv in the 1990s to the current endless battle at the Gaza strip, WAR is a state of being in Israel.

Tomer Zvulun
In the early 90s I entered the most surreal situation possible for a carefree teenager: I served in the Army for 3 years as a medic in a combat infantry unit.
As a young 18 year old, I learned a thing or two about violence, fear, loss and the constant brush with death. I learned to shoot, fight, run, hide—not only physically, but also emotionally. Hide the fear of dying young.
What got me through that time and stayed with me forever was the humanity that I found in every situation daily: the strong friendships we formed, the coffee we would shared on endless nights, the music we listened to in sentry and the stories I heard from my comrades about their girlfriends, mothers, loves, lives, homes…Most of all, it was recognizing that we all hid that same fear: the fear that we may never see them again.
That is the most fundamental aspect of being a soldier: missing the ones you love, your family, your home, your innocence, your youth. Those may be lost forever as soon as you put on uniforms and walk out the door.
That’s why I found the story of “Silent Night” to be so moving, personal and yet universal at the same time. Each one of the characters is acutely aware of his mortality, fears and loves. In the midst of this unimaginable time of terror, music, friendship and humanity emerge to provide a momentary solace from the horrors of that futile WAR. And every WAR is futile.
Our production was conceived as an entangled nightmare, progressing vertically. The structure of the opera is extremely intricate and complicated.  The space is the key to the concept: it allows for the fluidity that the storytelling requires. Frequently, the vertical nature of the set allows for simultaneous action on different levels. 
WAR, whether today in Israel or a century ago all over Europe evokes a chaotic, surreal world. The characters that inhabit this world are completely lost in it. As often is the case in WAR.

Tomer Zvulun
September 2014