Festival Diary: Wexford Festival Opera 2018, Day 2

By Alan Neilson

Following a good breakfast, I went for walk down to the quay to watch the fishing boats docking in the early morning sunlight. The cold air whipping off the Irish Sea made it clear that autumn was truly upon us. Crossing the river and looking back at the Wexford skyline you can see the National Opera House looming above the town, accompanied by two church steeples.

The lunchtime recital at St. Iberius’s church was given by the Polish baritone, Simon Mechlinski, who wowed the audience, with songs and arias by Italian, German, Russian and Polish composers, including Wagner and Chopin. At only 23, Mechlinski showed ability well beyond his years, and looks set for hugely successful career.

At 3:30 it was time for Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” at White’s Hotel. Although performed in a reduced version, the cast put on a good show, with notable performances from Elisabetta Farris as Minnie, Craig Irvin as Jack Rance and Richard Shaffrey as Dick Johnson, accompanied on the piano by Giorgio D’Alonzo

With just enough time to change into my formal evening wear and grab a bite to eat, it was off to the pre-performance talk by the conductor, Leslie Dala, who provided some very interesting insights into the evening’s opera, William Bolcom’s “Dinner at Eight.”

Sharon Carty also turned up and gave a delightful rendition of a couple of cabaret songs by the composer. The opera which is a light-hearted work, with a dark underside, was very entertaining and wonderfully presented.


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