Wexford Festival Opera wins top honour at Irish Times Theatre Awards for ‘Cristina’

Cristina, regina de Svezia by Jacopo Foroni was named Best Opera Production for 2013 at the Irish Times Theatre Awards last night at a ceremony at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin. Conducted by Andrew Greenwood, directed by Stephen Medcalf and designed by Jamie Vartan, the opera is loosely based on the life of Queen Christina of Sweden and was the hit of last year’s opera festival in Wexford. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Osmp_wLbs

Assistant Director of Cristina, Dublin-based Conor Hanratty, accepted the award on behalf of the Festival and its creative team. Expressing his delight on receiving the award, Festival Chairman Ger Lawlor said, “Finding an unknown opera of this quality and presenting it to the highest international standard is what makes Wexford the very special place that it is. We are ever grateful to the Arts Council of Ireland for their continued confidence and support. The excellent artistic leadership of David Agler made this award possible.”

The 19th century opera, composed by Italian-born but Swedish-resident, Jacopo Foroni (1825–1858), was little known after the composer died from cholera at the age of 34.  Had he lived, critics agree that he would have rivalled Verdi. The opera was only rediscovered a few years ago by Swedish musicologist Anders Wiklund, who edited the work and brought it back to life at a small festival in Vadstena. It was later recorded by the Göteberg Opera in 2007. Wexford Festival Opera’s production in 2013 was the very first staging of the opera outside Sweden, attracting many opera enthusiasts from abroad for this production alone.

Cristina, regina de Svezia has also been nominated for Best Re-discovered Work at this year’s International Opera Awards. Wexford Festival Opera has also been nominated in three other categories at the International Opera Awards, including Best Festival, Best Chorus and Best young singer – Helena Dix for her performance in the title role in Cristina, regina de Svezia. The winners will be announced in a Gala Ceremony in London on April 7.

The 63rd Wexford Festival Opera runs from 22 October – 2 November, 2014. Tickets for all performances go on sale this Saturday, 1 March. To avail of priority booking from this date, become a Friend of the Festival at www.wexfordopera.com/friends.  General booking opens on Saturday, 29 March.  Programme details at www.wexfordopera.com

Wexford Festival Opera is grant-aided by the Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland and Wexford County Council.