Shock of the old: how Wexford opera festival dares to be different

The Irish festival specialises in reviving neglected rarities – and proves that the road less travelled is well worth takingAlways do something different. Richard Wagner’s famous advice to his admirers should be the motto of Wexford Festival Opera. Different is what Wexford does, year after year – sometimes in the face of daunting financial, artistic and political challenges. It has made the festival what it is: an improbable but unique place of annual autumnal pilgrimage in the opera world as well as one of the prime cultural achievements of modern Ireland.This year’s festival, which ends on 4 November, has been hewn from the same operatic motherlode as its 66 predecessors. Wexford’s speciality is the unknown and neglected operatic repertoire. Its calling cards are the works – sometimes written by household names – that have fallen into neglect. This year’s edition offers new productions of Franco Leoni’s L’Oracolo, Umberto Giordano’s Mala Vita, and Saverio Mercadante’s Il Bravo, along with the European premiere of William Bolcom’s Dinner at Eight, all served up at the excellent National Opera House in which the festival has been based for the past decade. Continue reading…

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