Opera Corner is a new regular column that aims to bring news and stories of Wexford Festival Opera to the local community throughout the year, and not just at opera time in the Autumn
Wexford Festival Opera continues to celebrate its seventieth anniversary with a series of initiatives and events, both at home and abroad, since October last.
To celebrate outstanding female artists, one of these initiatives - W4Women - saw four recitals by four renowned sopranos associated with the Festival from four cities across the globe. Eleonora Burrato, Mariangela Sicilia, Angela Meade, and Ermonela Jaho, all internationally renowned sopranos who commenced their careers on the Wexford stage, have performed in the past six months. These four Wexford Festival alumni share a dedication to artistic excellence and have spread the name of Wexford on the world stage.
The most recent concert was given by Ermonela Jaho nd Wexford Festival Opera artistic director Rosetta Cucchi at St John’s Smith Square before an audience of 250 UK Friends of Wexford Festival. Ermonela gave her first professional performances outside Italy in Orleanskaya deva (2000), Sapho (2001) and Manon Lescaut ( 2002).Over the past year alone, standing ovations have followed Ermonela in London, Paris ,New York, Munich, Berlin, Madrid, with The Economist describing her as “Fiery angel…the world’s most acclaimed soprano.”
Rosetta Cucchi, an internationally-renowned pianist and opera director, has honoured the Festival’s traditions whilst introducing an innovative vision as Artistic Director to bring the Festival to a wider audience, both home grown and internationally.
Ermonela and Rosetta brought the St John’s Smith Square audience on an emotional journey back to their first recital together in Wexford over two decades earlier. “Bellini and Friends” reprised many of the arias they performed that day in the Barn at the old Whites Hotel. Rosetta and Ermonela reminded everyone what the Wexford Festival means to the world of opera and the importance of championing neglected operas which were once spectacular in their time. Their recital included works by Bellini, Donizetti, Tosti and Cilea. The best was kept until last when Ermonela sang “Addio,del passato”from the last act of La Traviata, which she first performed with Rosetta as part of the Short Works. Since Wexford, she has performed La Traviata over 300 times around the world.
Being interviewed for the 70th Anniversary Zoom Memories (https://youtu.be/G3I0UmI1y8M) Ermonela described how the Festival prepared her for the real opera world and how loved and supported she felt as a young singer. In that interview she also talked about a singer’s duty to give back to Wexford what Wexford had given to them .On a beautiful June night in London, one of Wexford’s most celebrated alumni gifted back to Wexford so much more, reminding us that “only with music do we connect with each other, because music is the language of our souls”. The miracle that is the Wexford Festival Opera, sustained by the love, support and energy of the Wexford community, lives on. Take a bow, Wexford.
Yvonne Mays is a solicitor living in Dublin and a native of Enniscorthy, Wexford. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of both Wexford Festival Opera and the Dublin International Piano Competition.