Priority booking is due to open on Saturday, March 21 for Wexford Festival Opera 2020 with 70 events over 13 days in an exciting programme inspired by William Shakespeare.
Each of the three main evening productions in the National Opera House - Ein Wintermarchen (A Winter's Tale) by Karl Goldmark, Le Songe d'une nuit d'ete by Ambroise Thomas and Edmea by Alfredo Catalani - is based directly, or indirectly, on the life and work of the great poet and playwright.
A new series of three day-time operas called Pocket Operas/Opera Beag will continue the Shakespearean influence with productions on the themes of love, fun and the darker side in the O'Reilly and Jerome Hynes theatres and Wexford Arts Centre.
A special evening concert will take place in the Opera House featuring the Wexford Festival Opera Orchestra and starring the internationally renowned American soprano Lisette Oropesa.
A performance of Rossini's Petite messe solennelle will take place in Rowe Street Church along with late night Cabaret des Artistes performances and 'WFO 2.0', a series of free pop-up performances featuring music, drama, singing and dance in non-traditional settings in various locations around Wexford town.
Announcing her casts for the three evening operas, the new artistic director Rosetta Cucchi said she wants to use the experience she has gained in Wexford to bring the Festival even higher by adding new lifeblood and creative ideas while maintaining its traditions.
'Unlike any other opera festival, Wexford will continue to be that unique place where you can discover rare and beautiful works,' she said.
'At the same time, we will add many more parallel events, both in the theatre and in spaces around the town.
'This programme will fill the days and nights of our audiences with art and entertainment, spreading the magic of the Festival through the town to which it belongs,' said Rosetta.
The Wexford Factory, a new academy for young Irish or Irish-based singers, will take place in early September, before the start of rehearsals for the Festival.
A new project driven by Rosetta, it will mentor singers through intensive masterclasses led by internationally recognised artists and professionals. Guest tutors will include the world-renowned tenor Juan Diego-Florez, Irish soprano Celine Byrne as well as Ernesto Palacia of the Rossini Opera Festival and Dmitry Vdovin, head of the Bolshoi's Young Artist Programme. Graduating students will perform in the Pocket Operas/Opera Beag reduced production of Verdi's Falstaff (Shakespeare for Fun).
The Wexford Factory is a collaboration with the Technological University of Dublin, the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Cork School of Music and in keeping with the international profile of the Festival a partnership with the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, Italy and Opera for Peace, has also been established.
The Dr. Tom Walsh Lecture will be given by former Festival artist director Luigi Ferrari (1995 to 2004) who will outline the provocative theory that Italian John Florio was the real author of many of Shakespeare's works, based on the intimate knowledge of Italian culture and geography contained in the works, even though there is no evidence that Shakespeare ever left English soil.
Artists and performance dates for the popular lunchtime concerts will be announced later but it has been confirmed that the prominent Irish soprano Celine Byrne will perform in the final recital in St. Iberius Church on Saturday, October 31.
The Irish composer and conductor Andrew Synnott is the incoming Chorus Master for the international opera event but is also the Festival's first Artist-in-Residence - he is composing a short opera titled 'The 47th Saturday', based on a short story of the same name by William Trevor in an adaptation by Vivienne Howard. The new work will enjoy two performances on October 21 and 29 at 11 a.m. in the intimate setting of Green Acres Gallery in Selskar.
For the new pop-up performances, which are designed to reach out to audiences, a map of the location of each event will be available, to lead the public to venues where the artistic spectacles will take place, adding a treasure hunt element to the experience.
Thee will be two to three events every day throughout the Festival but details will not be announced in advance.
Priority booking opens on Saturday, March 21 for Bravura, Aria, Cabaletta and Ensemble+Friends. Booking will open to the general public on Saturday, April 4. The Festival runs from October 20 to November 1.