Festival Diary: Wexford Festival Opera, Day 4

By Alan Neilson

Over the years, Wexford has seen its share of bloody conflicts, and in most cases, this tends to involve the English.

In 1798, the United Irishmen, who sought to establish equality between Protestants and Catholics, and independence from the UK, rebelled. The city became one of the focal points of the rising, with the rebels managing to take control of the city for three weeks. Eventually, it was brutally suppressed; the casualties from both sides now lie buried in an abandoned graveyard, 50 meters from the opera house.

It was another long and busy day. The lunchtime recital was by Sharon McCarty, who sang an exciting eclectic mix, with songs by Schubert, Stanford, Mozart, Bolcom, and James Joyce, who apparently was also a good tenor.

The afternoon was devoted to a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. A group of seven singers crafted a portrait of one of America’s greatest musicians, singing a program of solos and ensembles from his famous and not-so-famous works, alongside readings from his letters. It was an imaginative and hugely entertaining event.

The evening’s presentation was a verismo double bill: Leoni’s “l’Oracolo” and Giordano’s “Mala Vita.” Both provided examples of excellent singing, both had brutal endings; which was the most gruesome is difficult to say – was it the gunshot through the head, or the heart being manually ripped out of the body.

With that, it is goodbye to Wexford for another year.


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