The Deputy Artistic Director of Wexford Opera is Italian; her name is Rosetta Cucchi and she’s also a pianist and a stage director.
“This is a festival specialized in rare operas so, unlike other theatres in the world, where the great repertoire is performed, we need to look for ‘niche’ operas; not an easy task because we have to go and find works which have never, or very rarely, been put on stage,” she explained and continued: “In 1951 Dr Tom Walsh decided to create this festival ‘in the middle of nowhere’, as they say, because this town in South-East Ireland is, and especially was, at the time, a village. It all started with this group of gentlemen who would meet to listen to opera, and with this other gentleman, the novelist Compton Mackenzie, who told them: ‘why don’t you put on operas? Since you like it so much, since you are all opera lovers, why not do it?’. This is how the festival started.
‘Casting the singers and the creative team is a little more complicated than casting for, say, ‘Bohème’, because we have to look for voices that are suitable for an unknown opera! Besides, this is a festival for young singers who are also young rising stars. Wexford marked the debut of stardom for many singers: back in time, even Mirella Freni debuted ‘Puritani’, here, which was a very little known opera in the Sixties! And in more recent years: Diego Florez, Daniela Barcellona, and many others. Our aim is to identify young singers with a high potential.
‘The amazing thing about this festival is that it is ‘surrounded’, as they say, by volunteers; the town of Wexford comes alive and is totally committed to this festival. Forty percent of the staff here is made up of volunteers. It was really funny in the past: Wexford was quite far from Dublin, and ‘chauffeurs’ would come and pick you up at the airport, but you then realized they were not just drivers but university professors, teachers, pharmacists etc, who were all volunteering for the festival!” she concluded.