Slice of Life at Wexford Festival Opera: Emma

This year I am making a welcome return to Wexford Festival Opera having performed the role of Gretel in the 2015 Shortwork Hansel and Gretel as well as chorus in Koanga and Le Pré Aux Clercs. This year I am the proud winner of the PwC Emerging Young Artist Bursary. There has been many highlights; a chance to work with legendary actress, director and fellow Cork woman Fiona Shaw has been particularly special for me. Having studied lots of her work during my undergraduate degree in drama and theatre studies at U.C.C and both being former pupils of Scoil Mhuire secondary school, I was delighted to be cast in the role of Handmaiden in Cherubinis Medea. It was a privilege to work with her one on one and even for such a small role the depth of character building was fascinating.

Another highlight has been the world premiere of Dubliners composed by Andrew Synnott in which I play numerous roles including a young widow, a barmaid and a little boy! This is the work I am probably most excited about. The opera, which is a co-production between Opera Theatre Company and Wexford Festival Opera, takes two stories from the James Joyce’s book - Counterparts and The Boarding House. I have worked with each member of the predominately irish cast in the past so the chemistry on stage is electric. Andrew Synnotts score for piano quintet is very special and I have relished every moment of watching the piece come to life. Hearing the string quartet play the piece for the very first time after weeks of piano rehearsals is something I’ll never forget.

However this year hasn't been all rainbows and blue skies in the sunny south east. Hurricane Ophelia did her best to add some extra drama to the festival with the cancellation of the opening night fireworks display and Medea losing a much needed dress rehearsal. As a result our opening night performance was the first public performance-something that has never happened at the festival before! My schedule this year has been a busy one; before the festival starts my days always begin at 9.30am with rehearsals for the Shortwork Dubliners. The afternoon and evening sessions are taken up with rehearsals for the main stage operas which work on rotation.

Our amazing chorus master Errol Girdlestone gives us notes between the busy calls to stage. Now that the festival is well underway on the days I have a Shortwork my time is divided between a Dubliners performance in the afternoon at Whites Hotel and then onto an evening performance of Margherita on the main stage. The 1950’s hair styles required in Margherita take time so often our call to the theatre will be two hours before curtain up! Having our days off once the festival begins is a new luxury. It gives me time to relax, go to the gym and explore the many sights around Wexford. I will be sad when the festival ends in a week; The entire team at Wexford behind the scenes and on the stage are incredible. However I am excited to bring Dubliners to the Samuel Beckett theatre in Trinity next week. A new audience and a new performance space should add another layer to this dynamic piece.