Wexford Festival Opera today announced that it has taken the difficult decision to reschedule the previously announced artistic programme to October 2021. This is due to the ongoing worldwide uncertainty regarding the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing restrictions into the autumn, and in the best interests of the health and welfare of the Festival’s audiences, artists, staff, and volunteers.
However, the spirit which enabled a small provincial town to create a world-renowned opera festival continues to this day, inspiring Wexford, with the support and guidance of its board of directors, to develop a crisis-inspired formula by presenting a reimagined, online Festival.
‘Waiting for Shakespeare …The Festival in the air’ is an online celebration of music which will still encompass many of the artistic ambitions already set out by Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi earlier in the year, principally to nurture the talents of the best young Irish singers through the mentorship of world-renowned artists who share a love of Wexford. This reimagined Festival aims to bring together audiences and the wider worldwide Wexford community through the power of music.
The Festival will now run for eight consecutive days, from Sunday, 11 October until Sunday, 18 October 2020. During this time, audiences from home and abroad will be invited to experience the magic of Wexford Festival Opera online from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Further details of where and how to join in will be announced shortly.
Speaking today in a joint statement, Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi and Chief Executive David McLoughlin said, “Wexford Festival Opera makes an invaluable cultural and economic contribution to the nation in general and to the community and businesses in Wexford in particular. The repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic are regrettably beyond our control and we fully acknowledge the impact the postponement of this year’s full festival will have on the community which founded the Festival seven decades ago. However, the indomitable spirit of Wexford Opera lives on, even in these uncertain and challenging times. We are determined to leave no stone unturned to ensure the Festival remains active, dynamic and fully prepared to welcome audiences back to Wexford to celebrate the Festival’s 70th anniversary in 2021. 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. It also presents the opportunity for the wider public to access and experience the magic of Wexford perhaps for the first time. The steadfast support of our many stakeholders is enormously appreciated especially at this challenging time, in particular the support of our principal funder, The Arts Council, in addition to that of Wexford County Council and Fáilte Ireland, all of which has been crucial to enable Wexford to present a reimagined Festival against the odds this year, as well as RTÉ, which has partnered with us in the past to expand our audiences at home and abroad. In enthusiastic anticipation of the return of our patrons to Wexford next year, we are eager to still bring to you the spirit and community of Wexford this year.”
Existing ticket holders will be contacted directly regarding ticket refunds and the option to consider converting all or part of their refund into a donation to support Wexford’s artistic mission, in particular its ongoing initiatives to develop the talents and careers of emerging Irish singers and the creation of an online musical celebration this autumn.
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 acclaimed tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who appeared in Wexford at the very 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.
The Festival will open with Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will close with the highly anticipated Lisette Oropesa concert. Other events will include a star-studded Gala concert, featuring some of the opera world’s top performers, most of whom performed in Wexford early in their careers, a special 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.
Full details of ‘Waiting for Shakespeare ...The Festival in the air’, including a personal video presentation by the artistic director Rosetta Cucchi and downloadable brochure, is available through this link: www.wexfordopera.com
Wexford Festival Opera would like to thank the Arts Council, Wexford County Council, Fáilte Ireland/Ireland’s Ancient East and the Festival’s Friends, sponsors and donors. It is only through their invaluable support that Wexford Festival Opera can, in turn continue to reach out on a global scale to enrich, entertain and enlighten audiences during these uncertain times.