Wexford Festival Opera reflects on a successful 2019 as it prepares for 2020

While the 69th Wexford Festival Opera doesn’t open for another 10 months, the Festival has hit the ground running after the New Year to continue preparations for the inaugural artistic programme of its new artistic Director, Rosetta Cucchi.  Final casting is currently being confirmed and auditions for the Wexford Factory , an Academy for young Irish singers, are due to take place later in the month.  Open to young Irish singers or singers resident in Ireland and offering masterclasses with internationally renowned singers and artists such as Juan Diego Flórez, there has been keen interest in the Wexford Factory and competition for places will be keen.

2019 was a successful year for the Festival, with all three main stage operas receiving acclaim. The programme featured not just one, but two Irish composers on the main stage of the National Opera House, including the world premiere of a specially-commissioned opera by Irish composer Andrew Synnott, La cucina, which was performed as a companion piece to the short Rossini opera, Adina. Irish mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly made her debut in Adina while Irish soprano Maire Flavin sang the lead role in La cucina. A concert performance of the rarely performed opera, The Veiled Prophet by the Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford, was also well received and was well attended by key international media. 

Most of the 41 public events were sold-out for the 13 day Festival, bringing thousands to the coastal Irish town. Not limited to Wexford in October, the Wexford Festival experience extended throughout the island of Ireland and internationally over the entire year with events in Dublin and London for Friends of Wexford Festival Opera and with the return of Opera in the Garden at Dublin’s prestigious Merrion Hotel.  Millions more across the globe were treated to a taste of the award-winning international Festival through the worldwide live stream of the sold-out production of Antonio Vivaldi’s Dorilla in Tempe  via rte.ie/culture and the live national and international radio broadcast by RTÉ lyric fm and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).  And in an exciting new development for 2019, the opera was also live-streamed into three Irish cinemas, the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin, Pálás Cinema, Galway and Century Cinema, Letterkenny, marking the first time ever that an Irish-produced opera or any Irish-produced artistic productions for that matter, was broadcast live into Irish cinemas, once again confirming Wexford’s position as a leading and most innovative cultural organisation.

After a financially challenging 2018, resulting from the high costs of the ambitious artistic programme presented and lower than anticipated box office income, 2019 was a far more successful year, with a budget-beating box office performance and all costs coming in below budget. As a result, preliminary full-year financial results indicate that the company returned to delivering a surplus in 2019. 

Chief Executive, David McLoughlin, commented: “We are very grateful to all our supporters and stakeholders, in particular our audiences, for their strong and continued support of Wexford Festival Opera in 2019, which enabled us to present an artistically and financially successful Festival. We are excited by the new artistic and financial opportunities arising from our new Artistic Director’s ambitious programme for 2020.”

With the new, expanded artistic programme for 2020, which includes daytime pop-up events and late night cabarets in addition to the three main evening operas and the other popular daytime performances, tickets for the 69th Festival is expected to be at an all-time high at the commencement of the booking period, set to open in just over two months.  Priority booking for the 69th Wexford Festival Opera opens on Saturday, 21 March for Bravura, Aria, Cabaletta, Ensemble+ Friends.  Priority booking for Ensemble Friends opens on Saturday, 28 March, while public booking opens on Saturday, 4 April. To avail of priority booking and ensure best choice of dates and ticket prices, become a Friend. Join online at https://www.wexfordopera.com/friends/become-a-friend/

The 69th Wexford Festival Opera will run from Tuesday, 20 October to Sunday, 1 November, 2020. 70 events over 13 consecutive days including 3 main evening operas, an orchestra gala concert with world-renowned US soprano, Lisette Oropesa, a full daytime programme and pop-up operas throughout the town of Wexford. Wexfordopera.com.

Wexford Festival Opera is supported by grants from the Arts Council, Wexford County Council and Fáilte Ireland/Ireland’s Ancient East.