independent

Thursday 17 October 2019

Town buzzing as 60th Wexford Festival Opera gets under way

IT'S THAT time of year again, and you only have to walk around Wexford town to appreciate the amazing atmosphere and buzz that surrounds the landmark 60th Wexford Festival Opera.

Whilst on the quay-front an amazing fireworks display signalled the beginning of the festival, Wexford Opera house was awash with glitz and glamour as Opera buffs from all over the country, and indeed all over the world, got ready to feast on a piece of operatic excellence in the form of Ambroise Thomas's 1855 opera, 'La Cour de Célimène'.

This is the first time that this piece has been performed since it was originally produced at the OpéraComique in Paris in 1855. The Opera itself tells the story of a hurt and humiliated widow who decides to take revenge on men by breaking their hearts whilst protecting her own and with the fashion that was on display at the premier, I'm sure that the character of Célimène was not the only one who was capturing hearts on the night.

As always, people have come from far and wide to attend the Opera, many of them have been attending for years. One particular couple, the Iredales, have been travelling over to the festival from Oxford for 17 years.

'Although we're originally from the midlands of England and are not in any way Irish, every year we come to Wexford and at this stage it feels like coming home.'

The Iredales stay in the Talbot Hotel every year and were quick to compliment both the staff there and the people of Wexford in general,' said Mrs. Iredale.

'We stay in the same hotel every year and everybody there is just so warm and welcoming, as are most of the people we encounter in Wexford,' Mr Iredale said. 'Every year we come back and people remember us and it's lovely to have a chat and catch up.'

The Iredales were not the only ones to make the journey across the Irish Sea for the festival however. Journalist George Hall and his partner Helen Faulkner made the trip across from London to spend the weekend attending the Opera and taking in the various other exhibitions and events that the Festival has to offer. George, who has been coming to the festival since 1999, complimented the festival. 'It always produces a great atmosphere and there is always such a variety of events to attend.'

There were also some recognisable faces in attendance at the launch, economist Peter Bacon, celebrity solicitor Gerard Kean, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, who being a local man was particularly proud. Minister Howlin spoke of the importance of Wexford Festival Opera to the people of Wexford. ' The festival is in its 60th year this year. For my entire life it has been one of the most important parts of the year for the people of Wexford,' said Minister Howlin.

He also stressed the point that it serves as something for people to look forward to and is something positive in the current economic climate. 'I believe the festival serves as a bright light for people, something to look forward to between summer and Christmas. I think everyone in Wexford looks forward to fireworks night,' he said.

When asked was there any exhibitions or events he was particularly looking forward to, Minister Howlin responded: ' To be honest this is the first year where I have been too busy to look into what's going on beforehand, but I am opening two exhibitions over the weekend and I'm looking forward to having a look around some exhibitions and enjoying the atmosphere for the weekend before returning to the hard work ahead in Dublin.'

You can be sure that Minster Howlin was not the only one who was enjoying the atmosphere and looking forward to all the events and exhibitions to come as Wexford once again plays host to people from all over the world in what looks sure to be another fantastic Wexford Festival Opera.

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