The curtain fell on the 64th Wexford Festival Opera this evening but not before two of this year’s singers were awarded two very significant artistic bursaries. Canadian soprano Magali Simard-Galdès and Irish soprano Rachel Croash received their awards from Artistic Director David Agler, from the stage of the National Opera House in front of a sold-out audience after the final performance of Le Pré aux clercs by Ferdinand Hérold.
The Wexford Festival Opera Aria Friends Bursary was awarded to Dublin soprano Rachel Croash, who performed in no less than four operas this year: the role of Renée in Koanga by Delius; Dew Fairy in the ShortWorks opera Hansel and Gretel; and in the chorus of Guglielmo Ratcliff and Le Pré aux clercs.
The long-standing Gerard Arnhold Bursary was awarded to Canadian soprano Magali Simard-Galdès, who sang the role of Nicette in Le Pré aux clercs, her first professional operatic engagement, which received great critical acclaim. Anna Picard in The Times said of her, “Yet the evening belongs to the 21-year-old soprano Magali Simard-Galdès (Nicette), making her professional debut with sparkling foiritura…..”
Commenting on the winners, David Agler said, “Wexford has always prided itself on discoveries, whether it be repertoire or singers. Providing a platform for the best emerging talent on the national and international stage is a key part of the Wexford Festival Opera mission. These bursaries, generously provided by the Arnhold Estate and the Aria Friends of Wexford Festival Opera, allow us to nurture this emerging talent that Wexford is known for uncovering.
Over the past 12 days over 20,000 people attended 54 separate events which ranged from evening performances, to ShortWorks daytime operas, to the ever popular gala night. With very high demand for tickets this year the Festival entirely sold out, with lengthy waiting lists for tickets for the three main evening operas.
Though the Festival is now over, two of the three evening operas will be broadcast on two separate dates in November. Koanga by Frederick Delius will be broadcast nationwide on Saturday, 7 November at 7 p.m. on RTÉ lyric fm, while Le Pré aux clercs by Ferdinand Hérold, will be broadcast via RTÉ lyric fm on Saturday, 14 November at 7 p.m. nationwide, as well as to 14 European Broadcasting Union (EBU) member radio stations. The participating national radio stations will be in countries as far afield as the USA and Australia, Poland and Canada, and also include The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Hungary, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, and the UK, with the potential audience for these numerous broadcasts ranking in the millions.
On 31 October both RTÉ lyric fm and BBC Radio 3 simultaneously broadcast Guglielmo Ratcliff live nationwide in Ireland and the UK, but is still available to listen back to and enjoy online at either www.rte.ie/lyricfm/opera-night and www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/operaon3
The repertoire for the 65th Wexford Festival Opera, which will run from 26 October to 6 November, 2016, has already been announced by Artistic Director David Agler. The three evening operas will be:
Herculanum by Félicien David (1810–1876) dates: 26, 29 October / 1, 4 November
Vanessa by Samuel Barber (1910–1981) dates: 27, 30 October / 2, 5 November
Maria de Rudenz by Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848) dates: 28, 31 October / 3, 6 November.
Creative teams, cast and details of other programme events will be announced in the coming months.
Booking for Wexford Festival Opera 2016:
Priority booking for Friends of Wexford Festival Opera opens Saturday, 27 February 2016. General booking opens Saturday, 19 March 2016.
The 64th Wexford Festival Opera is supported by grants from the Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland, and Wexford County Council.