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73rd Wexford Festival Opera Programme Announced

(c) 'Stage Door, Theatre Royal, Wexford 2001' image adapted by Roberto Recchia from an original photograph by Pádraig Grant

(c) 'Stage Door, Theatre Royal, Wexford 2001' image adapted by Roberto Recchia from an original photograph by Pádraig Grant

Theatre within Theatre - All the World's a Stage - 80 events, 16 days, running from 18 October to 2 November 2024

The programme for the 2024 Wexford Festival Opera has been announced by Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi. Centring around the theme of Theatre within Theatre, the three mainstage operas have been revealed as Le maschere (1901), by Pietro Mascagni; The Critic (1916), by Charles Villiers Stanford; Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali (1827), by Gaetano Donizetti

The 2024 Festival will be one of the biggest of recent years.

16 days, 80 events, including the three main stage operas
Two Pocket Operas: Alberto Caruso's Lady Gregory in America, on a libretto by Colm Tóibín, and William Niall Morris' Puccini: Man of Theatre
An Orchestra Gala Concert by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra with four principal WFO artists
A new Community Opera (The Elixir of Love by Donizetti) which will see members of the community perform alongside a professional cast
A late-night music and dance performance, Bach at Midnight
The much-loved annual Gala Concert
The Wexford Factory returns for the 5th year with a new group of artists
Engagement projects, Wings to Fly and Circus & Opera, will encourage children in both primary and secondary schools to explore opera and stage performance. These will see the students work directly with WFO artists and creative teams
WFO regulars Dr Tom Walsh Lecture and another Impossible Interview will again feature in the programme.
Speaking at the announcement of the programme, WFO Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi said: After the deep emotion of the 2023 season, I wanted to give the public a peek behind the curtain where anything can happen, and everything is possible… with a touch of lightness.

Mainstage Operas

Le maschere
(1901), by Pietro Mascagni
Mascagni’s comic opera follows the tale of a commedia dell'arte troupe and their impresario. When it premiered in 1901, it was performed in 7 theatres at the same time on the same day. The opera will be conducted by WFO Principal Guest Conductor Francesco Cilluffo and directed by Stefano Ricci, former Artistic Director of the Venice Biennale.

The Critic
(1916), by Charles Villiers Stanford
A modern premiere, The Critic is a satirical opera based on the 1779 play of the same name by Richard Sheridan and is set during the rehearsal of a new opera. The Critic will be conducted by Ciaran McAuley and directed by Conor Hanratty (who directed and designed the set for L’italiana in Algeri this year). 2024 will mark the 100th anniversary of Stanford’s death.

Le convenienze e inconvenienze teatrali
(1827), by Gaetano Donizetti
Conducted by Danila Grassi and directed by Orpha Phelan (who directed Lalla Roukh in 2022 to much acclaim) this comic opera follows the story of a regional opera troupe rehearsing their production with their leading lady (played by a baritone!) behaving like a Prima Donna.

(1892), by Ruggero Leoncavallo
A new group of artists will begin their 2-year journey as the 5th Wexford Factory gets underway in September 2024. Wexford Festival Opera has a long history of being a springboard for many young singers at the beginning of their careers, helping them move onto the international stage. The Wexford Factory, nurturing young Irish or Irish-based singers and pianists/repetiteurs, builds on this tradition. Pagliacci by Leoncavallo will be performed by the Wexford Factory and directed by Stefania Panighini. A masterpiece of Verismo, often performed as a double bill with Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascgani, the opera follows the story of a troupe of travelling artists, including Canio, who kills his wife Nedda and her lover Silvio on stage during a performance.


WFO will collaborate with primary and secondary school students in a year-long programme offering both performance opportunities and creative team experiences for them. Taking Pagliacci as its inspiration, the Circus & Opera project will include one special performance featuring hundreds of primary school children as the Chorus. Across the year, they will be tutored in preparation, and for this performance, the ending will be changed to make it more accessible for primary school students. Wings to Fly will engage with secondary school students who will work directly across the year with the WFO creative team and an artist from The Critic. Working together in groups, they will then have their ideas realised on stage during the festival in a one-off showcase.

Pocket Opera | Opera Beag

The daytime pocket operas will both be new WFO commissions and will continue the theme of Theatre within Theatre.

Lady Gregory in America
(2024), by Colm Tóibín and Alberto Caruso
Following the success of Colm Tóibín and Alberto Caruso’s collaboration on the opera of Tóibín’s award-winning novel The Master (2022), they will reunite for this new WFO commission, Lady Gregory in America. Lady Gregory, along with W.B. Yeats, founded the Abbey Theatre. This comedic piece imagines her scandalous adventures alongside other revolutionary Irish women in the USA.

Puccini: Man of the Theatre
(2024), by William Niall Morris
A new work commissioned by WFO from Grammy-nominated classical singer, writer and theatre producer William Niall Morris, whose previous works include The Puccini Scandal and Callas.

Community Opera: The Elixir of Love (1832), by Gaetano Donizetti
Following the success of the first WFO Community Opera this year, Gianni Schicchi, the 2024 programme will once again see members of the local community take centre stage alongside a professional cast in The Elixir of Love. Apart from the Donizetti Festival in Bergamo (Italy), WFO has produced more Donizetti operas than any other opera festival in the world. WFO is credited for the rediscovery of L’elisir d’amore, (The Elixir of Love), first performed here in 1952; the opera has subsequently found its way into the operatic canon as a much-loved work.

Recitals, Concerts and Talks

Lunchtime Recitals
will once again highlight individual artists from the festival.

WFO are delighted to announce a special RTÉ Concert Orchestra Gala Concert with four WFO artists.

The much-loved annual Gala Concert will once again feature WFO artists performing their favourite repertoire.

Six late-night appointments with cellist Adrian Mantu and dancer performing six Bach Suites, in Bach at Midnight.

Michael Dervan hosts another Impossible Interview. Details to be announced in due course.

Dr Tom Walsh Lecture
will host another important guest, after this years' success with Lara Marlowe.

The dynamic and serendipitous Pop-Up Events are now some of the most popular treats of Wexford Festival Opera. They involve WFO artists in spontaneous music and theatrical moments in unexpected locations around Wexford. Admission is free to these events with a pop-up calendar published at the beginning of the Festival.

“Festivals and events are a key element of the tourism offering in Ireland, and Fáilte Ireland is pleased to support this year’s Wexford Festival Opera, which will showcase the very best of Irish arts, heritage and culture to domestic and international visitors. Developing unique and immersive visitor experiences like Wexford Festival Opera plays an important role in the recovery of the tourism sector for the county and the wider Ireland’s Ancient East region. Festivals like Wexford Festival Opera create new and compelling reasons for visitors to explore Ireland and experience first-hand our world-famous arts and culture. They have the ability to drive footfall for local businesses, which in turn generates revenue and supports jobs in communities and revenue generation.” Ciara Sugrue, Head of Festivals and Events, Fáilte Ireland

Box Office 2024 Festival: / +353 53 912 2144

Booking Opens:
Bravura, Aria, Cabaletta, Ensemble+ | 24 April 2024
Ensemble, Prelude | 1 May 2024
General booking | 8 May 2024