We are pleased to announce details on our Main Stage Operas for the 63rd Wexford Festival Opera.
Antoine Mariotte (1875–1944)
22, 25, 28, 31 October
Salomé, by the French sailor-turned-composer Antoine Mariotte (1875–1944), is a rarely-performed operatic version of Oscar Wilde’s perceptive play about Herod’s dysfunctional family and the unhappy step-relationships between Herod, his second wife Herodias and his niece and stepdaughter Salomé.
Wilde wrote Salomé in French in Paris in 1891; Mariotte read it in c.1895 whilst serving in the French navy in the Far East and set it to music. A notorious dispute with Richard Strauss’s publisher nearly scuppered Mariotte’s opera but it was successfully produced in Lyons in 1908.
Mariotte’s dramatic music is impassioned and intense, its harmonic subtlety and complex language inherited from Debussy. From the universal to the local: Oscar Wilde’s mother’s family – she was Jane Elgee, the Irish nationalist writer ‘Speranza’ – was from Wexford.
Antonio Cagnoni (1828–1896)
23, 26, 29 October, 1 November
Don Bucefalo, a delightfully good-humoured comic opera reminiscent of Rossini and Donizetti, was written in 1847 as a graduation work by Antonio Cagnoni (1828–1896) at the Milan Conservatory. It was an immediate success and was published by Ricordi who recognised a rising star.
Cagnoni had written two operas before Don Bucefalo and was to write a further seventeen, stylistically moving from the tradition of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Rossini towards Leoncavallo. The libretto is adapted from Le cantatrice villane by Giuseppe Palomba, which had been set to music by Valentino Fioravanti in 1799.
Don Bucefalo introduces himself as a singing teacher, but that innocent-sounding profession leads to rivalry between singers, marital jealousy, the return of a long-lost husband, singing as a means of social mobility, and the difficulties of putting on a new opera.
Kevin Puts (b. 1972)
24, 27, 30 October, 2 November
Silent Night by Kevin Puts (b. 1972) will receive its European premiere at Wexford. It was commissioned by Minnesota Opera and co-produced with the Opera Company of Philadelphia when it was first performed in November, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota to great critical acclaim.
It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2012. Its subject matter makes its performance at Wexford in 2014 especially poignant in the centenary year of the outbreak of World War 1. The opera’s libretto by Mark Campbell is based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noël and tells the story of the short-lived and spontaneous Christmas truce in 1914 between enemy combatants. Campbell said that the opera’s core message is that ‘War is not sustainable when you come to know your enemy as a person.’
Kevin Puts is from St Louis, Missouri and is a graduate of Yale University and the Eastman School of Music. He has composed four symphonies and several concertos, is performed by leading ensembles in the United States and overseas, and has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation.
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