Wexford Factory 2020/21 Academy

Meet the members of the 2020/2021 Wexford Factory Phase I & II

Wexford Factory 2020 Presentation

by artistic director Rosetta Cucchi

Anna Brady

Soprano

Irish mezzo-soprano Anna Brady obtained her B. A in Music Performance from RIAM in 2011, before completing her Masters at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on June 2020. An inaugural member of Wexford Festival Opera Factory Artist Programme, where she was granted the PWC Emerging Artist Bursary, Anna performed during the festival taking the part of Mistress Quickly from Falstaff by Verdi and performing in the chorus for Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.  

Her performing experience also includes Annina in La Traviata with Fife Opera, Margot-Froufrou in The Merry Widow with Opera Bohemia and Daisy in The Next Station is Green Park with Opera Eos, among others. 

She recently joined the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar on July 2021 to perform as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. Anna was also awarded the Lily Niblock Scholarship to attend the Berlin Opera Academy in August next year. 

Kindly supported by Brenda & Lochlann Quinn.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Ava Dodd

Soprano

Originally from Wicklow, Irish soprano Ava Dodd is currently a Masters student in the Royal College of Music, London. Having studied with Professor Mary Brennan and Dr. Dearbhla Collins at the Royal Irish Academy of Music;, she completed a BA in Music Performance and graduated with a first class Honours and is now a Karaviotis Scholar studying under the guidance of Professor Janis Kelly. In January 2020, she played the title role of Calisto in RIAM’s production of La Calisto by Francesco Cavalli, and performed in RIAM’s Productions in 2019: La Liberazione di Ruggiero by Francesca Caccini and Banished by Stephen Mcneff.  

A multiple prize-winner Ava was most recently awarded the RDS Collins Memorial Performance Award and bursary 2021, first prize in the International Grand Prix of Romania “Trophaeum Artis Cantorum 2020” and in the Royal Dublin Society Music Bursary Competition, 2020.

Ava will return to Ireland in July 2021, playing the role of Yum-Yum, in Lyric Opera’s production of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan, NCH, Dublin, and will perform a solo recital in Lismore Opera Festival in September 2021. She will also perform as Papagena in RCM’s production of Die Zauberflöte, November 2021. 

Kindly supported by Terry and Marjorie Neill.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Rory Dunne

Bass-Baritone

Kildare born Bass-Baritone Rory Dunne studied as an actor before he felt called to pursue a career in opera. Graduating from TUDublin Conservatoire and The Bull Alley Theatre Training Company, Rory’s career has led him to perform with WFO, Lyric Opera Productions, Irish National Opera, Cork Opera, Opera Collective Ireland and Blackwater Valley Opera Festival. The multi award-winning singer has won prizes from Feis Ceoil, Bernadette Greevy Bursary, Navan Choral Festival and the John McCormack Society, as well as being chosen as a finalist in Northern Ireland Opera’s Glenarm Festival of Voice. With a number of performances under his belt including Colline (Puccini’s La bohème), The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado), Monterone (Verdi’s Rigoletto), Falstaff (Verdi’s Falstaff), and Angelotti and Sciarrone (Puccini’s Tosca) Rory has a host of upcoming engagements including Cosi fan tutte with the Vienna Opera Academy, Gianni Schicchi with Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, Semele with Opera Collective Ireland and Le Songe d’une nuit d’été and Il Capuleti e i Montecchi with Wexford Festival Opera. 

Kindly supported by Patrick & Evelyn O'Sullivan.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Andrew Gavin

Tenor

Andrew Gavin from Navan Co Meath, has performed with Wexford Festival Opera on a number of occasions in 2015, 2016 & 2017. He was recipient of the WFO / PwC Emerging Young Artist Bursary 2016 and is a former member of the Irish National Opera ABI. Aviation Studio. Graduating with an M. Phil in Children’s Literature from Trinity College, Andrew was awarded his Masters in Music Performance at the RIAM under the tuition of Mary Brennan. He is currently undertaking his doctoral studies at RIAM and Trinity College Dublin. Andrew made his debut at Wigmore Hall as part of the 'Irish Culture in Britain’ celebrations and participated in a joint production with the Juilliard school, New York and the RIAM, Ten Thousand Miles Away.  Among the many awards he has won include prizes at the ESB Feis Ceoil, the O’Mara Cup, the Plunket Greene Cup, and the William T. Watt trophy for Tenor solo.Upcoming engagements include Tebaldo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi at Wexford Festival Opera, Mr.McCarthy in the Worl Premiere of Andrew Synnot's The 47th Saturday and Jupiter in Händel's Semele with Opera Collective Ireland.

Kindly supported by Cel & Bill Phelan.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Kathleen Norchi

Soprano

Currently based in NYC, Cleveland soprano Kathleen Norchi studied Music at the Boston Conservatory of Music and her masters at the Mannes School of Music, she is currently studying with Darrell Babidge in NYC. With a love of performance since she was very young Kathleen has performed with Utopia Opera as well as in productions of Die Zauberflote, The Telephone, Carmen and Hansel und Gretel. The soprano made her role and company debut as the young Nanetta un Giuseppi Verdi’s beloved comedic masterpiece Falstaff, with Wexford Opera in Wexford. Kathleen has also debuted the role of Collatine in a new opera commission by Wexford Festival Opera, composed by Andrew Synnott What Happened To Lucrece. Upcoming engagements include Le Songe d’une Nuit d’été by Ambroise Thomas as well as singing Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi.

Kindly supported by Bill and Carol Emmott
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Jade Phoenix

Soprano

Jade Phoenix is a 23-year-old lyric soprano from Ireland. In 2020, she graduated with First Class honors from the Royal Irish Academy of Music with a Bachelor of Music Performance studying Mary Brennan and Dearbhla Collins. Jade is currently studying in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, under the tutelage of Yvonne Kenny for her Masters in Music Performance. In 2020, Jade was a winner of the Flax Trust Music bursar, a finalist in the Glenarm Festival of Voice and a winner of the Veronica Dunne International Singing competition Bursary. Jade participated in Wexford Festival Opera’s Academy in 2020 where she sang the role of Alice in Verdi’s ‘Falstaff.’ Most recently Jade sang in the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, there she sang the role of Madama Córtese/Corinna (I don’t know what role I’m singing yet, they decide when I get there in 2 weeks) in Rossini’s ‘Il Viaggio a Reims’ as part of their academy for young artists. Jade’s other roles include Charlotte Badger in Stephen McNeff’s contemporary opera ‘Banished’ and Jane in The Dreamcatcher, another contemporary opera by Kevin O’Connell. Upcoming performances include I Capuleti e I Montecchi, Giulietta, 2021, WFO 

 

Kindly supported by Brenda & Lochlann Quinn.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Aleksey Kursanov

Tenor

Alexei Kursanov is graduating this year from the Viktor Popov Academy of Choral Arts where he studies with the Honored Art Worker of Russian Federation Professor Dmitry Vdovin. In 2019, while studying at the Academy, he performed the part of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni by Mozart staged by Professor Ilya Vasheruk and Professor Ekaterina Vasheruk and in the project Amadeus. The Opera Laboratory conducted by Dmitry Korchak.​ 

In 2018, he appeared with Professor Semyon Skigin at the Gala concert at the Moscow International House of Music. 2020 saw him participating in the International Academy of Music headed by Dmitri Vdovin at the International Winter Arts Festival in Sochi under Maestro Yuri Bashmet. 

Among his other performances are the part of tenor in the Mass by F.Schubert conducted by Korchak and in the Great Mass by W.A. Mozart’s conducted by Mikhail Pletnev at the Festival of Russian National Orchestra. 

Alexei is actively involved in the Young Artist Program of the Bolshoi concert activities. He has attended master classes of renowned artists, teachers and musicians Placido Domingo, Enrique Mazzola, Luba Orfenova, Semyon Skigin, Dmitri Korchak, Salvatore Fisichella and Ernesto Palacio.​ 

In 2021, he made his debut as Tamino at the Novossibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater and won the First Prize at the International Jose Carreras Vocal Competition. 

 

Kindly supported by Terry and Marjorie Neill.
2021 Phase II

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Vladimir-Mihai Sima

Tenor

 Originally from Romania, tenor Vladimir-Mihai Sima has previously studied computer programming and International Business /Economics before studying music and graduating from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Now in his first year of studying for a Master’s in Vocal Studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with Scott Johnson he has also been performing with Wexford Festival Opera (“Falstaff”), Irish National Opera (“Aida”) and Northern Ireland Opera (“Die Fledermaus”). He was part of the inaugural Wexford Factory Young Artist Programme where he has sang for international coaches and artists such as Ermonela Jaho and Ernesto Palacio.

Future engagements include Dion in Goldmark’s Ein Wintermärchen and Tebaldo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Kindly supported by Board Consortium.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Conall William O’Neill

Bass

Bass, Conall O’Neill, recently graduated from the Royal College of Music, London where he was an RCM Award Holder supported by a Herbert Howells & Thomas Fielden Scholarship, Johnson Scholarship and a Pauline Hartley Award. From 2012 to 2015, Conall studied at Imperial College London, from which he graduated with a BSc(Hons) in Biology. Conall is a member Wexford Festival Opera’s inaugural young artists program “The Factory”. Last season, he performed the role of Pistola (Falstaff) which was streamed in partnership with RTÈ. This season he will sing the role of Lorenzo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi and L’Oste in Edmea. Previously, Conall has performed as Colline in Hampstead Garden Opera’s production of La bohème, Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring) for the Koninklijk Conservatoire Antwerpen, Lorenzo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) with the Zezere Arts Festival in Portugal. With the Royal College of Music’s International Opera School, Conall has sung Antonio (Le Nozze di Figaro) directed by Sir Thomas Allen and Snug (A Midsummer’s Night Dream). Other roles include Benoît/ Alcindoro (La Bohème) for the Rye Arts Festival. Other career highlights include when Conall performed the part of Norman Allin in a performance of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music conducted by John Wilson for a Gala at Buckingham Palace hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales to raise money for the Royal College of Music’s More Music campaign.

Kindly supported by Mays Group.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Conor Prendiville

Tenor

Conor Prendiville graduated recently with a Master’s degree from the Royal Irish Academy of Music where he studied with Owen Gilhooly and Dr. Dearbhla Collins. Recently Conor was one of the ‘Rising Stars’ at the Concert Hall in University of Limerick and company artists at the Cork Opera House. With a long passion for music of many kinds, Conor’s love of opera began when he decided to get his voice trained. Once he began performing opera there really was no looking back. Conor has performed the role of Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Don Basilio/ Don Curzio (Le Nozze di Figaro) Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni), Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi), Captain (in Stephen McNeff’s ‘Banished’). Conor has sung Handel’s ‘Messiah’, Britten’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’, Bach’s ‘John Passion’ and ‘Actus Tragicus’, Mozart’s ‘Coronation Mass’ and Kevin O Connell’s ‘Mass’ and ‘Aifreann’, Handel’s ‘Messiah’ with St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Conor sang in recitals with Opera Collective Ireland’s production of ‘The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat’ by Michael Nyman, with Cork Opera as Beppe in Pagliacci and Lunchbreak Opera in London as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi (Puccini).  

Kindly supported by Board Consortium.
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Sarah Richmond

Mezzo-Soprano

Carrickfergus born mezzo-soprano Sarah Richmond made her Wexford Festival Opera debut in 2015 in the critically acclaimed Guglielmo Ratcliff by Mascagni, singing the role of Willie and returned in 2016 to sing the principal role of Yelena in the ShortWorks production of The Bear by William Walton. Known for her vocal warmth and versatility, with Opera Magazine remarking “Her voice was bright and clear, her acting wholly convincing” and Online Musik Magazin praising her “kraftiges Timbre Und grosse Strahlkraft”. Sarah is a recipient of the WFO / PwC Emerging Young Artist Bursary 2016, graduating from the RNCM with an MMus (Distinction) and a PG Dip Solo Performance (Distinction) as a Drapers’ de Turckheim Scholar. Notable successes include Janet Baker bestowing her The Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss 2010 and winning the Toronto Mozart Vocal Competition 2021. The mezzo-soprano has also performed with North West Opera, NI Opera/Nevill Holt Opera, Wide Open Opera, Castleward Opera and more. Future engagements include Così fan Tutte, Dorabella, 2021, Civic Offices Dublin, Il Tramonto, Mezzo Soprano with The Ulster Orchestra, 2021, BBC Radio 3 Broadcast, Harbour (by Greg Caffrey), Mezzo Soprano, 2022, Replay Theatre tour.

Kindly supported by Terry and Marjorie Neill
2020/2021 Phase I & II

Francesca Federico

Soprano

Soprano Francesca Federico spent all her summers growing up with family in west Cork and Kerry. Francesca received a Bachelors degree in Global Politics and a Masters in Voice at the Mannes School of Music. Her interest career in classical music was sparked by seeing her first opera, Rigoletto at the Met when she was 15. Now based in NYC Francesca is due to perform in dell’Arte Opera's 2020 summer festival and recently made her debut at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center.

Kindly supported by Bill & Carol Emmott.
2020 Phase I

David Howes

Bass-baritone

Bass-baritone David Howes, originally from Limerick completed his Bachelor of Music Degree at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. David’s grandad Harry, a self-taught bass singer inspired him to pursue singing along with his parents’ staunch support. A graduate of the distinguished Young Artist Programme with Northern Ireland Opera David has worked with the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, performed in the world premiere of Andrew Synnott’s opera, Dubliners at WFO 2017, Irish National Opera, Buxton Opera Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Kindly supported by Michael Meagher and Conor Killeen/Key Capital
2020 Phase I

Sarah Shine

Soprano

Limerick soprano Sarah Shine studied at the RIAM under Veronica Dunne who has been her biggest inspiration in her career along with her grandmother who encouraged a love of music from an early age. Sarah was a member of the Salzburg Young Singers Project 2019 and has just finished two seasons as a singer in residence at the Académie of Opera National de Paris. After a performance at Palais Garnier in 2018, Sarah was awarded the Siemens Opera Award.

Kindly supported by Kevin & Yvonne Mays & Friends.
2020 Phase I

Gianni Giuga

Baritone

Born in Syracuse in 1992, Gianni graduated from the "Giusto Monaco" School of Dramatic Art. In 2014 he started studying singing with Salvatore Fisichella, while completing his degree in Modern Literature from the University of Catania in 2016.  He continued his vocal coaching with Marcello Giordani, and the pair performed together at the "Giordani and Friends" Concert with the Orchestra of the Massimo Bellini Theatre. In 2017 he sang Dandini in Cenerentola at the Young Artist Programme Academy and as part of a Masterclass at the Luciano Pavarotti Theatre in Modena. His debut came as Pagliacci (Silvio) in Augusta, alongside Marcello Giordani (Canio). Since then, he has sung Sestola and Piteglio (2017) Appennino in Canto Festival, Rigoletto (concert performance) in Fanano, La Fanciulla del West at Teatro Lirico of Cagliari, Madama Butterfly and Carmen (Morales). He sang Belcore in L'Elisir d'amore at the Teatro Comunale in Modena and Carpi, Gomes' Lo Schiavo at the premiere of Teatro Lirico in Cagliari, which was conducted by John Neschling. Other credits include Taddeo in L'Italiana in Algeri at Opéra de Tenerife and Teatro Comunale in Bologna and Andrea Chénier in Trieste, The Sword in the Stone at the Teatro Regio in Parma, Tosca and Turandot in Sicily and La Traviata in Ancona. In 2018 he was awarded first prize in the AsLiCo competition for the role of Escamillo in Carmen.

Kindly supported by Sarah Rogers.
2020 Phase I

Support Wexford Factory

Should you want further assistance or if you would like to have a conversation about options to support The Wexford Factory or a Factory Singer you can contact Ann Marie Dalton, Head of Development, at adalton@wefordopera.com.