Wexford Festival Opera has just announced that, due to the continuing impact of the pandemic, it will not be running with a physical event this year. The event will, instead, be a totally online affair starting Oct 11 and ending Oct 18. And it’s all free.
This is a terrible blow for Wexford as the festival, which has been bringing opera lovers to the town for seventy years and which has spawned a huge Fringe Festival, is vitally important to the local economy. The press release issued by WFO puts a brave face on a difficult situation in stating that ‘the spirit which enabled a small provincial town to create a world-renowned opera festival continues to this day, inspiring Wexford, with the support and guidance of its board of directors, to develop a crisis-inspired formula by presenting a reimagined, online Festival’.
What a way for incoming Artistic Director Rosetta Cocchi to begin her tenure. The popular and versatile Italian has not let the decision to drop the scheduled programme so late in the day phase her. The new online offering may be slim but it is packed with quality. There are not one, but two, Dr Tom Walsh lectures, ‘Impossible Interviews’ with Michael Dervan, a new opera from Artist-in-Residence Andrew Synnott, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, six episodes from Verdi’s Falstaff performed by members of the Wexford Factory, the annual Gala Concert, multidisciplinary pop-up events ‘in non-traditional settings’, a Celine Byrne recital and a concert from the NCH featuring Lisette Oropesa and the Wexford Festival Orchestra.
A number of Wexford-based artists, arts administrators and local business people have been putting their heads together to see if a scaled-back Fringe Festival might still go ahead. The issues of safe distancing and hygiene will, obviously, still play a major part in determining what can and cannot go ahead.
As for WFO, if ever there was a time for the state and state agencies to support the arts it is now. Let’s hope the festival can keep its head above water in these crazy times and get back into its stride next year.
The press release announcing the decision to run with a slimmed-down online-only festival this year: https://www.wexfordopera.com/…/wexford-festival-opera-upda…/
The revised programme: https://www.wexfordopera.com/programme/festival-programme/