Wednesday 21 February 2018



Pat O'Kelly


FOR its diamond jubilee celebrations Wexford Festival Opera's opening gambit unearths Ambroise Thomas's La Cour de Celimene -- lying in limbo since its 1855 Paris premiere.

The Wexford staging, also commemorating the composer's bicentenary, does as much as it can with the frivolous souffle.

The music is attractive but, like its story of a coquettish widow, it is rather slight.

However, there is much in the production's favour. Paul Edwards' sets and costumes run a riot of colour in evoking a decadent French society milieu.

Director Stephen Barlow uses his stage highly effectively and the Wexford cast respond with eclectic timing and teamwork.

Besides, the comic nature of the ridiculous piece is conveyed with tasteful aplomb.

Sopranos Claudia Boyle as the Countess Celimene and Nathalie Paulin as her disapproving baroness sister do full justice to Thomas's extravagant coloratura, vocal acrobatics and elaborate roulades.

As principal suitors, Luigi Boccia's ardent tenor and John Molloy's unyielding bass amusingly duel it out before achieving their respective romantic aspirations.

Carlos Izcaray conducts the opera with enthusiastic verve and the festival chorus pack plenty of punch.

Irish Independent

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