La Cour de Célimène and Maria nominated for ‘Best Opera’ production in Irish Times Theatre Awa

La Cour de Célimène, an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas, composer of Mignon and Hamlet, was written in 1855 but only performed for a single season. Irish soprano, Claudia Boyle, who sang the title role in the Wexford production, was only the second soprano to have ever performed this demanding, yet sparkling role on stage. The production was directed by well-known director, Stephen Barlow, with a luscious 17th century French-inspired set and costumes, designed by Paul Edwards. The performances were conducted by Venezuelan conductor Carlos Izcaray, who also conducted the 2010 Irish Times Irish Theatre Award Winning ‘Best Opera’ production of Virginia by Mercadante for Wexford Festival Opera.

Also on the list of nominations is Maria by Polish composer Roman Statkowski written in 1903 and successfully premiéred in Warsaw in 1906 but which had received only six other productions before the 2011 production at Wexford.  It was directed by Polish-born director Michael Gieleta, who set this early 20th century opera in the Gdansk Shipyard of the 1980s, transporting the audience into the not so distant past aided by set designer James MacNamara, costume designer Fabio Toblini and video designer Andrzej Goulding.

The 2011 Best Opera production will be announced at the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards Ceremony on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at the IMMA in Dublin.  The best of luck to all involved!

“The Festival orchestra, now comprising more Irish musicians than the Dublin-based National Symphony Orchestra, captured the charm and sparkle of Thomas’s score and Stephen Barlow’s heavily bewigged staging was just the right side of camp. The plot – about a flirtatious countess who sees men and marriage as a mere social convenience – is pure froth but Wexford proved this particular froth has artistic substance, worthy to stand alongside Thomas’s better-known operas, Hamlet and Mignon.” - Andrew Clark, Financial Times – October 29, 2011

“...director Michael Gieleta updates this to Eighties Poland, turning the fathers into a top Party functionary and Solidarity leader respectively.  .....the sets and costumes by James McNamara and Fabio Toblini are rich in ‘period’ detail, mixing communist chic with gritty shipyard realism.” - John Allison, The Sunday Telegraph – October 31, 2011

“...the festival seems to flourish under the directorship of David Agler…..” - Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph – November 2, 2011