Wexford Festival Opera opens with a bang

Warming up for Wexford Festival Opera’s opening performance are Hannah Sawle, Johane Ansell and Chloe Morgan, factory girls in Il Cappello di paglia di Firenze by Nino Rota. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Warming up for Wexford Festival Opera’s opening performance are Hannah Sawle, Johane Ansell and Chloe Morgan, factory girls in Il Cappello di paglia di Firenze by Nino Rota. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 01:01


The opening of the 62nd Wexford Festival Opera was marked by a fireworks display on the town’s quays last night. The 12-day festival, comprising fully staged operas and dozens of other events, will attract thousands of visitors and secure international attention for Wexford.

Famous for showcasing less well-known operas, the programme also includes concerts, recitals, talks and lectures.

Bestselling author Eoin Colfer, a native of Wexford, opened the festival and attended with his wife the gala performance of Nino Rota’s Il Cappello di Paglia di Firenze, one of this year’s main productions. The writer of the Artemis Fowl series of books recalled being involved with the festival as a youth.

“When I was in my early teens I was co-opted in as an extra,” he said. “Me and another youngster had to run across the stage a few times in costumes. I think I was bitten by the bug. It just seemed so glamorous – continental people moving around speaking Italian and Spanish. It was a fantastic introduction.

“I couldn’t sing but I ended up going backstage for years and working in the crew.”

Other major productions this year are Cristina, Regina Di Svezia by Jacopo Foroni and a double bill of Thérèse and La Navarraise by Jules Massenet.

Four daytime short-work operas are also included: La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi; The Sleeping Queen by Michael William Balfe; L’Elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti; and Losers by Richard Wargo, based on the Brian Friel play.