The Veiled Prophet

Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924)

The great Mokanna, o’er his features hung
The veil, the silver veil, which he had flung         
In mercy there, to hide from mortal sight
His dazzling brow, till man could bear its light.   

[Lalla Rookh, Thomas Moore].

The Veiled Prophet by Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford is based on Irish poet and songwriter Thomas Moore's most famous poetic romance Lalla Rookh. The opera is set in the Merou and the Prophet's Palace in Persia and the title is taken from the name of the heroine of the story, the daughter of the 17th-century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. 

Very few professional performances have been given of Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford’s operas in the last century. Stanford was a prolific opera composer, much more interested in the lyric stage than most of his contemporaries in Britain (his career was largely divided between Cambridge and London). But recognising the hopelessness of pursuing an operatic career at home, he turned to Germany – he had studied with Reinecke in Leipzig in the 1870s – and it was in Hanover that the first of his ten operas, The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, was premiered in 1881. Given there as Der verschleierte Prophet, it had been translated again as Il profeta velato by the time it reached Covent Garden.

Among those who made musical settings before Stanford were Spontini, Félicien David, Anton Rubinstein and – most famous of all – Schumann, in what became his Das Paradies und die Peri. Cosmopolitan in its pre-Wagnerian manner. The Veiled Prophet is attractive, despite sometimes coming under suspicion for its shades of Meyerbeer. But it was well-received in its day, with the Musical Times of 1 March 1881 saying of Stanford, ‘He has come before the world in a new light, as the composer of a grand opera, a work of greater importance than has hitherto appeared from his pen.’

Presented by Wexford Festival Opera in association with Heritage Music Productions (Una Hunt, founder and producer)

Sung in English with English surtitles

TICKETS €50 – €80


Two short talks will take place before the 28 October performance:

Una Hunt: “Adapting Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh for the Operatic Stage”
3–3.45 p.m. | Jerome Hynes Theatre

Jeremy Dibble: “Stanford’s Veiled Prophet: A Pioneering Landmark in English-Language Opera” 
3.45-4.30 p.m. | Jerome Hynes Theatre

Una Hunt is one of Ireland’s most versatile concert pianists and has toured extensively in Ireland, the UK, Europe, USA, and Russia. Particularly committed to rediscovering the music of Ireland’s neglected composers, Una has recorded an unrivalled world-premiere collection of CDs and has presented Irish operas by Balfe and Wallace to critical acclaim. She is also a distinguished author and has published on many aspects of music in Ireland, including a seminal publication on Thomas Moore. Una is an experienced broadcaster and award-winning documentary maker and is Professor of Performance Research at Technological University Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama. 

Jeremy Dibble is a Professor of Music at Durham University. An expert on British and Irish music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, he has developed a particular interest in the life and work of Charles Villiers Stanford which includes a book published in 2002 with Oxford University Press. His work as an editor of Stanford’s music, much of which still remains unpublished, has led to numerous recordings with companies such as Hyperion, Chandos, SOMM and Lyrita.

The Veiled Prophet - first performance 2 June, 1881, Hoftheater, Hannover

Libretto by W. Barclay Squire after Moore

Creative Team

David Brophy


Previous engagements: Conductor (BBC Proms in the Park 2019, BBC and The Ulster Orchestra; Neil Martin Recording, Neil Martin, RTÉ Concert Orchestra; The Music of Shaun Davey, Shaun Davey, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra).

Forthcoming engagements: Conductor (Culture Night, RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Cara O’Sullivan Fundraiser, RTÉ Concert Orchestra; Clifden Arts Festival, RTÉ Concert Orchestra).

Tina Chang


Previously at WFO: Répétiteur (L’oracolo/Mala vita, 2018; Margherita, 2017); Music Director (Bernstein à la carte ShortWork, 2018; La scala di seta ShortWork, 2017).

Previous Engagements: Pianist & Coach (A Midsummer Night’s Dream/La tragédie de Carmen/Company, Britten/Brooks/Sondheim, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival), Pianist (Sanctuary & Storm, Tawnie Olson & Rebecca Barker, re:Naissance Opera), Répétiteur (Faust, Gounod, Vancouver Opera).

Forthcoming Engagements: Répétiteur (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, Vancouver Opera; Another Brick in the Wall (Julien Bilodeau & Roger Waters, Vancouver Opera).

Onstage video
Roberto Recchia
Una Hunt


Mokanna, The Veiled Prophet
Simon Mechlinski


Previously at WFO: Luigi (Il bravo, 2018), Dr Malatesta (Don Pasquale ShortWork, 2018).

Previous Engagements: Eugene Onegin (Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Toulon Opera), Foka (The Enchantress, Tchaikovsky, Lyon Opera), Janusz (Halka, Moniuszko, Wroclaw Opera).

Forthcoming Engagements: Ryx (Casanova, Ludomir Rozycki, Warsaw National Philarmonie), Strahlbusch (Irrelohe, Schreker, Lyon Opera).

Zelika, Priestess
Sinéad Campbell-Wallace


Previously at WFO: Inez (Die drei Pintos, 2003), Princess (Transformations, 2006), Monica (The Medium ShortWork, 2005), Antonia (Les Contes d’Hoffmann ShortWork, 2006).

Previous Engagements: Floria Tosca (Tosca, Puccini, Theater Regensburg), Agathe (Der Freischütz, Weber, Theater Regensburg), Helmwige (Die Walküre, Wagner, London Philharmonic Orchestra).

Forthcoming Engagements: Floria Tosca (Tosca, Puccini, Scottish Opera).

Fatima, Chief Slave in the Harem
Mairead Buicke


Previous Engagements: Mimì (La bohème, Puccini, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra), Musetta (La bohème, Puccini, English National Opera), Pamina (The Magic Flute, Mozart, English National Opera).

Azim, a young warrior
Gavan Ring


Previously at WFO: Lieutenant Gordon (Silent Night, 2014), Oompa Loompa (Golden Ticket, 2010), Father Philippe (The Wandering Scholar ShortWork, 2014), Marcello (La bohème ShortWork, 2010).

Previous engagements: Radoski (Sigismondo, Rossini, Münchner Rundfunkorchester), L’horloge/Le chat (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Ravel, BBC Proms), Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert & Sullivan, Cork Opera House).

Forthcoming engagements: Guest Tenor (Viennese New Year Gala, Orchestra of Opera North), Prologue/Quint cover (The Turn of the Screw, Britten, Opera North), Tenor Soloist (Requiem, Stanford, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra).

Abdullah, Mokanna's Slave
John Molloy


Previously at WFO: Le Commandeur de Beaupré (Le Cour de Célimène, 2011).

Previous Engagements: Alfonso (Così fan tutte, Mozart, Northern Ireland Opera/Nevill Holt Opera), Lindorf/Coppelius/Miracle/Dappertutto (Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Offenbach, Irish National Opera), Swallow (Peter Grimes, Britten, Teatro Comunale di Bologna).

Forthcoming Engagements: Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rossini, Lyric Opera Productions), Quince (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Britten, Scottish Opera).

The Caliph Mahadi
Thomas D Hopkinson

United Kingdom

Previously at WFO: Monterone (Rigoletto, 2017 ShortWork); Un capo delle guardie (Medea, Cherubini, 2017).

Previous Engagements: The Mourner (Fantasio, Offenbach, Garsington Opera); Marchese d’Obigny (La traviata, Verdi, Al Buston Festival – Lebanon); Bass Soloist (Requiem, Verdi, Oldham Choral Society).

Forthcoming Engagements: Bass Soloist (Elijah, Mendelssohn, Salford Choral Society & Northern Baroque Sinfonia); Bass Soloist (The Dream of Gerontius, Elgar, Burnley Choir).

A Young Watchman
Dominick Felix

United Kingdom

Previously at WFO: Joe (La fanciulla del West ShortWork, 2018).

Previous Engagements: Tiridate (Radamisto, Handel, Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Vaudemont (Iolanta, Tchaikovsky, Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Vassili (Mavra, Stravinsky, Guildhall School of Music and Drama).