Wexford Festival Opera 2020, reimagined for Covid times (with the help of RTÉ) as the ‘Festival in the Air,’ runs for eight days from Sunday 11 October. The intended Shakespeare theme (as announced in 2019), downsized and relabelled as ‘Waiting for Shakespeare’, has been retained with the ‘Falstaff Chronicles’ – an online six-part operatic miniseries based on Verdi’s Falstaff – and a new opera commissioned by the Festival, What Happened to Lucrece by Andrew Synnott. With lectures, interviews with leading international artists, and community pop-up events, the Festival will also feature a series of star-studded concerts, all available online.

Rory Musgrave and Sarah Richmond in rehearsal for ‘What Happened to Lucrece’ by Andrew Synnott (image © Pádraig Grant)

The Festival opens with a concert performance of Rossini’s ‘Petite Messe Solennelle’ (with singers Claudia Boyle, Tara Erraught, Pietro Adaini and John Molloy), followed on 12 October by a recital by Celine Byrne from the stage of the National Opera House. The next three evenings are given over to performances of What Happened to Lucrece, with the Gala Concert following on the evening of 16 October. This will feature a huge cast of singers from around the world, including such artists as Joseph Calleja and Juan Diego Flórez – all of whom appeared at the Wexford Festival early in their careers – performing online. The Festival closes with a final concert from the Opera House stage on 18 October, with the Festival Orchestra, soprano Claudia Boyle and tenor Pietro Adaini, conducted by Francesco Cillufo.

Reflecting on the programme, the festival’s Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi said:

“This has been a very challenging year but sometimes from hard rocks come beautiful flowers and the partnership between WFO and RTÉ will bring this flower into every house waiting for our return to theatre and to be together in Wexford again.”

All events are streamed live and will be available on demand, through RTÉ Culture, ARTE.tv (opening concert only), and Wexford Festival Opera’s own media channel – see wexfordopera.com for further details.