independent

Thursday 21 March 2019

Why festival is being scaled back to 13 days

The festival fireworks will take place on Tuesday night in 2019
The festival fireworks will take place on Tuesday night in 2019

Anna Hayes

After two years of an extended run, Wexford Festival Opera will return to a 13-day programme in 2019, with the festival encompassing two weekends instead of three.

The festival made the decision to increase its number of productions for 2017 and this continued for the 2018 festival but say that the decision to shorten the event again is in response to customer feedback.

Media Relations Manager with the festival, Elizabeth Rose-Browne explained that there was a combination of factors that had prompted the change. In 2017, the festival ran for 18 days with three 'dark evenings' (nights where there was no performance), and two dark evenings in the 17-day festival in 2018.

'The feeling was that this broke the momentum of the festival. We were trying to extend over three weekends while also focusing on market and capacity. With five performances of each opera this year, we were splitting the same audience numbers over five performances rather than four. Other festivals have had similar experiences so there's no shame in making this decision.'

She said that they had to respond to customer feedback, adding that the hotels in the town were not completely full for the whole of the festival either. She said that they engaged with their stakeholders and listened, in particular, to customer feedback.

'We have to make sure the festival continues to stay strong; there is a big responsibility on us to do that.'

She said the festival committee stood by the decision to extend the programme in 2017, pointing out that they could have done so the year before, but said that there was a lot of changes since then, and uncertainty, not least of which is Brexit.

'About 24% of our audience comes from the UK so there is that factor. In 2017, at booking time, sterling hadn't taken a dive but this year it was poor and our sales were much slower to take off.'

A novel factor with this year's festival was that opening night took place on a Friday, in order to take in three weekends. In 2019, it will be another first as the festival will open on a Tuesday night.

'It has always opened on a midweek night - either Wednesday or Thursday - so I don't see there being any issue with a Tuesday night opening.'

The 2019 Wexford Opera Festival will open on October 22 and run until November 3. This year's operas are: 'Der Freischütz' by Carl Maria von Weber; a double-bill of 'Adina' by Gioacchino Rossini and the world premier of 'La Cucina' by Irish composer Andrew Synnott; and 'Don Quichotte' by Jules Massenet.

There will be 12 main evening opera performances as well as the one-night only, exclusive concert performance of 'The Veiled Prophet' by Irish composer Charles Villiers Standford.

Wexford People

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