Simon Smith

Wexford goes virtual with ‘Festival in the Air’

7:53, 1st July 2020

With the cancellation of the Wexford Festival Operas 2020 event, Wexford has announced that, instead of live events this year, it will be holding a crisis-inspired online festival entitled Waiting for Shakespeare …The Festival in the Air’.

Juan Diego Flórez

The online programme will now run for eight consecutive days, from 11 to 18 October. The inaugural Wexford Factory, a professional development academy for young Irish/Irish-based singers has been retained as a key part of this year’s reimagined Festival. Participants will be tutored by some of the most celebrated professionals in opera today, including  tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who appeared in Wexford at the beginning of his international career, coming full-circle. Wexford Factory participants will also perform scenes from Verdi’s Falstaff from the stage of the National Opera House, streamed in an episodic format over six consecutive days.

Lisette Oropesa

The Festival will open with a performance of Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle dedicated to the memory of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will close with a concert featuring the much-fêted American soprano Lisette Oropesa. Other events will include a gala concert featuring some of the opera world’s leading performers, most of whom performed in Wexford early in their careers, a dinner-time recital by the celebrated Irish soprano Celine Byrne, as well as a new opera by artist-in-residence, composer Andrew Synnott. A community element will remain with a series of pop-up performances which will take place daily in Wexford town in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

In her first year as artistic director of WFO, Rosetta Cucchi (left) said: “We are determined to leave no stone unturned to ensure the Festival remains active, dynamic and fully prepared to welcome audiences back to Wexford next year. This year’s Festival aims to build on our pioneering digital initiatives in recent years to present an exciting and varied programme of events, safely and at no charge to our audiences across Ireland and around the world.”

Meanwhile this year’s live opera programme at Wexford has been postponed to October 2021, when the  Festival will be celebrating its 70th anniversary.

Details of where and how to join will be available at www.wexfordopera.com

In the short video below, Rosetta Cucchi introduces the inaugural intake of singers participating in the Wexford Factory.



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