Young Critics

This year we worked on an educational project in collaboration with Maynooth University. Third-year students, who are studying Opera in Context were asked to attend our 69th reimagined online Festival, and write a 300-word review.  

“As Head of the Music Department at Maynooth University I am very proud to present the following reviews, written by four students who attended the 3rd year course Opera in Context, which I teach together with my colleague Prof. Christopher Morris. Opera is a music genre very close to my heart and I was delighted to say yes to Susanne Plaehn’s and the Festival’s request to work together on an educational project.

I decided then to include one assignment in the module; I asked all the students to attend the 69th Wexford Festival Opera online events, choose one event – the advice was to pick up the one that caught their attention the most – and write a 300-word review. For them this was a type of assignment different from the written essays that they encounter more frequently in their university modules. They could enjoy in fact a level of freedom and even informality in their writing, that can be out of place in more academic-oriented essays. At first this caused a little disorientation; the students were encouraged, of course, to do some research on the pieces that were performed at the Festival, so that they could balance their own reactions to the performance with an understanding and knowledge of what was performed. Several students acknowledged that it was the first time they experienced opera and operatic singing and were taken by surprise by how much they like it. It was not easy to choose the best reviews, ultimately Christopher and I, marking together all the reviews, picked up those who were able to balance the sense of personal engagement with their chosen event, catching the spirit of the music in a few phrases, sometimes just a few words, and a fluent, engaging prose.”

Dr Antonio Cascelli
Head of Music Department
Maynooth University


Read the reviews for yourself:

Falstaff Chronicles review by Sam Balfe
Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle by Ben Cully
Claudia Boyle & Pietro Adaini by Eamonn Walsh
Falstaff Chronicles by Hannah Lenihan