Days of Donizetti at Wexford Festival Opera

Days of Donizetti: Maria Padilla 2009: The Wexford Angle.

Donizetti wrote four ‘Maria’ operas:  Maria Stuarda, Maria di Rohan, Maria de Rudenz and Maria Padilla.  While Maria Stuarda is well-known and outside Wexford’s brief of producing rarely performed operas and, having produced Maria di Rohan in 2005, David was eager to present another ‘Maria’ opera: Maria Padilla.  He also could not resist the opportunity to return to his roots and act as the conductor of this magnificent score with American soprano Barbara Quintiliani in the title role. 

The audience was not to be disappointed.  He recalls, such was the fervour of the audiences reaction, that during the curtain call on the final night, American soprano Barbara Quinitiliani was physically pushed back by the unbelievable applause from the audience.

While there was no dispute about the quality of the voices and orchestra, there were some rumblings about the set design. The production featured an avant-garde set by Mauro Tinti which, like many designs these days, gave rise to a debate about staging operas in the period during which they were written. The set featured a large pile of bricks, and as this coincided with the end of the building boom in Ireland, David Rowe made a cartoon showing the general reaction. One local old timer reacted as follows “Why in God’s name would you put the Prince of Castile on a building site?” You can’t please them all!

Maria Padilla had four performances in the Wexford Opera House on 23, 26, 29, and 1 November and included the following cast:

Maria Padilla                                       Barbara Quintiliani

Ines Padilla                                          Ketevan Kemoklidze

Don Pedro                                           Marco Caria

Don Ruiz                                             Adriano Graziani

Don Ramiro                                        Vittorio Prato

Francisca                                            Annie Gill

Don Luigi                                             Paulo Paolillo

Don Alfonso                                        Bradley Smoak

Wexford Festival Opera Chorus

Orchestra of Wexford Festival Opera

Conductor                                           David Agler                           

Director                                               Marco Gandini

Set Designer                                       Mauro Tinti

Costume Designer                              Silvia Aymonino

Lighting Designer                                Paul Keogan

Other than The Donizetti Festival in Bergamo, Italy, Wexford Festival Opera has produced more operas by Gaetano Donizetti, than any other festival in the world.  This year we prepare to produce our 17th full-scale Donizetti opera, Maria de Rudenz

References courtesy of County Archives, Ger Lawlor. Cartoon courtesy of David Rowe.