Festival Diary: Wexford Festival Opera, Day 3

By Alan Neilson

Wexford has a long history, dating back to at least 800 AD when it was founded by the Vikings. Walking around the town, along the quay or through its narrow streets, there is plenty of evidence of events and people who have shaped the town. A minutes walk from my B&B is Selskar Abbey, which dates back to the 1100s, or possibly even earlier. It is now a picturesque ruin.

In the morning, I met Mary Dunleavy, the American soprano, who the previous evening gave a brilliant acting and singing performance in the role of Millicent Jordan in Bolcom’s opera “Dinner at Eight.” She also made an interesting and charming interviewee.

In the afternoon, it was back to White’s Hotel for a performance of Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” in which the prodigiously talented, 23-year- old, Polish baritone was singing the role of Dr. Malatesta. Following on from his wonderful recital from yesterday, he again made a powerful impression. Other roles were also well parted, including Norina, played by Barbara Cole Walton who sang really well, following a nervous start.

Mercadante’s “Il Bravo” was the evening’s opera. As well as some stunning singing, the production was notable for the lavish costumes; the crowd scenes, in particular, were an explosion of colorful fabrics and flamboyant creations – all based on original designs.


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