Wexford Festival Opera Repertoire 2013

The 62nd Wexford Festival Opera
Wednesday 23 October – Sunday 3 November, 2013



Wexford Festival Opera Repertoire 2013

For our 62nd season, we have once again put together an exciting programme.  Our three main stage productions will be Nino Rota’s Il cappello di paglia di Firenze (The Florentine Straw Hat); the Jules Massenet double bill of Thérése and/ La Navarraise and Cristina, regina de Svezia by Jacopo Foroni. 

Il cappello de paglia di Firenze (The Florentine Straw Hat) by Nino Rota (1911-1979)
23, 26, 29 October, 1 November

Thérése/ La Navarraise by Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
24, 27, 30 October, 2 November

Cristina, regina di Svezia by Jacopo Foroni (1825 -1858)
25, 28, 31 October, 3 November

Il cappello di paglia di Firenze is the most popular of Nino Rota’s operas is in four acts. Libretto by Nino Rota and Ernesta Rinaldi after Eugene Labiche and Marc  Michel. Composed in 1955 and first performed at Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily; 21 April 1955, sung in Italian.
The story is based on a famous nineteenth century French farce, Chapeau de paille d’Italie (‘The Italian Straw Hat’), and Rota decided to use this non-modernist humorous story as the basis for a work in the tradition of Italian comic opera, changing its title to ‘The Florentine Straw Hat’. A nervous young bridegroom is out riding before his wedding when his horse eats a straw hat belonging to a lady dallying with her lover. She is now compromised unless she can return home with a duplicate of the ruined hat, and so the bridegroom has to help her whilst allaying the suspicions of his own fiancée and her family, as the time of his wedding draws ever closer.

Thérése/ La Navarrasie is a double bill by Jules Massenet:
Thérèse is a melodrama in two acts.  Libretto by Jules Claretie.  Composed in 1905-6 and first performed at the Opéra, Monte Carlo; 7th February 1907, sung in French.
This is the story of three people caught up in the terror of the French Revolution and of how the politics of their time have a decisive effect on their lives, forcing them to confront their relationships and to make life and death choices. Thérèse and her husband André Thorel are Girondists, a political movement which campaigned for the end of the monarchy in France, but whose members were then executed as the reign of terror began. Their friend Armand de Clerval is a nobleman who loves Thérèse, and with whom Thérèse is planning to escape into exile. But her husband, whom she admires and respects, is caught up in the Revolution and Thérèse deliberately leaves her lover and goes to her death with her husband.

La Navarraise is an Épisode lyrique in two acts.  Libretto by Jules Claretie and Henri Cain.  Composed in 1893, first performed at Covent Garden London; 20 June 1894 and is sung in French.  This story is set in Spain in 1874 during the Carlist War, and like Thérèse, features a tragic heroine, Anita. If Thérèse’s renunciation of her lover and her choice of marital fidelity unto death on the guillotine enables her to ascend to the moral high ground, it is a different story with poor Anita, the girl from Navarre (‘la Navarraise’). Once she makes the wrong moral choice she begins an irrevocable descent into her own personal hell, and like a Thomas Hardy heroine, becomes a plaything of fate. She is a familiar figure in every age: in love, poor, prevented from marrying the man she loves through lack of money, and so lacking in moral principles that she is tempted into committing murder for money so that she can marry. The moral point is well made that nothing can go right after that, and consequently she is misunderstood and renounced by the man she loves, who accuses her of prostitution. He dies and she loses her mind and goes mad.
Cristina, regina di Svezia is an opera in five parts and three acts by Jacopo Foroni.  Libretto by Giovanni Carlo Casanovo and composed in 1849. First performed at Mindre Teatern, Stockholm; 19 May 1849 and sung in Italian.  This melodrama is about the events leading up to Queen Christina of Sweden and her sudden abdication in 1654.  These are at the core of Foroni’s opera and are stirringly presented in the dramatic orchestral music and lyrical bel canto vocal writing. The focus of the opera is the queen’s unrequited love for her favourite, Gabriele, but she was also the target of political unrest and conspiracy. Foroni, whose familiarity with the music of Bellini, Donizetti and the young Verdi, may be heard in Cristina, died from cholera in 1858 aged thirty-three.