Wexford's Richard returns to his operatic roots
A very special visitor was on hand to welcome the cast of the opera Koanga on a trip down memory lane as they arrived for the first time at the National Opera House to begin rehearsals for this year's Wexford Festival Opera.
The cast were greeted at the stage door by Richard Foley, who for many years growing up, lived on High Street with his late grandmother, Josie Reynolds.
Now owner and managing director of ESET Ireland, his company is sponsoring the opening night performance of Koanga.
When the Theatre Royal was knocked down 10 years ago, some of the adjoining houses were also demolished to extend the footprint of the new opera house.
His grandmother's house was among them.
'It's come full circle for me,' Richard told this newspaper, 'as a 10-year-old I lay in my bedroom facing out on to the stage wall.. now I'm attending the opera and and enjoying the music that used to keep me awake.'
Richard, who said he was 'currently 53', said he had come to the opera late, but always enjoyed attending the festival.
'When you are a regular Wexford man you can't avoid the opera,' said Richard, who lives in Templetown, Fethard-on-Sea.
He said he had strong memories of all the hustle and bustle surrounding the festival.
'It was and is a great community event and part of the fabric of the town that we often take for granted.. we don't realise how significant it is on a global scale.
Richard recently returned to this site of his old home to welcome the cast of Koanga and showed them where his old room used to be, and where he used to listen to the sound of music coming through the walls.
Koanga by Frederick Delius is considered to be the first opera written about African-Americans.
Inspired by the African-American songs Delius heard as a young man working on an orange plantation in Florida, Koanga is a powerfully atmospheric opera about a proud African prince, sold into slavery in Louisiana, who falls in love with a mixed-race maid, with tragic consequences.
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