The first Festival of opera took place in Wexford in October 1951, and opened with a production of The Rose of Castile by one-time Wexford resident, Michael William Balfe. From that humble beginning Wexford Festival Opera has grown to be one of the premier and longest established cultural events in Ireland, and one of the very few with an internationally recognised and respected brand, being a firm fixture on the intercontinental Opera calendar, with the Festival performances now broadcast globally. The 60th Wexford Festival Opera, which features artists from 14 different countries performing in 52 separate performances and events, spanning 16 days, to an expected audience in excess of 20,000 ticketholders.
Opening the Festival, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, “Wexford Festival Opera has gone from strength to strength and adds immensely to Ireland’s reputation for culture and creativity. Our reputation as an island of artists and entrepreneurs is a source of goodwill and investment across the globe. There are so many good things that the arts deliver as well as being an important local employer.
Over the next 16 days, Wexford town will come to life with lunchtime recitals, evening cabarets, choral and orchestral concerts and performances of rare operas. I want to pay tribute to all those involved in bringing this magnificent festival to a wide audience, and to the many volunteers who give so much to make this festival so special.”
David McLoughlin, Chief Executive of Wexford Festival Trust added, “Wexford Festival Opera could not have received a more significant national endorsement on its 60th opening night than to have the special anniversary festival officially opened by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny. His presence as guest of honour underlines the Festival’s significant and enduring contribution to the cultural, economic and community life of the Nation generally, and Wexford in particular, with the Festival exemplifying the respect and recognition a community founded cultural event can garner globally.”