I arrived in Wexford yesterday afternoon - and am always so happy to be back here where I was for seven years in those far off days! Nothing much has changed over the years but two important things have. The new theatre was built just seven years ago and is as fine a room for the performance of opera as any anywhere. This is a miracle and was built during the "great recession". Extraordinary!
The other big change is the fabled Whites Hotel - but that is a different story. I am in one of the excellent rooms in the new block so I have no complaints whatsoever. The public areas are jam packed at Festival time. And its mayhem!
And I guess another change of significance is the quality of performances and production values. They have come a long way since the minuscule budgets and primitive conditions in the old theatre. Wexford can now stand proud as a first class producer rather than a quaint anomaly. They can and do collaborate as equal partners with companies around the world - and last night's production, a co-production with the Minnesota Opera, is an excellent example.
I hugely enjoyed seeing for the first time Donizetti's Maria de Rudenz. It was especially notable for a very fine performance of the central role of Corrado Waldorf from the Korean baritone Koo Won Kang. He seems to be up and coming in a vocal category that is sparsely populated these days. He will do well.
The Wexford chorus is looked after splendidly by our old friend Errol Girdlestone - all in great form last night. And it was also a treat to see Sophie Gordeladze who had been so delightful in our Moskva Cheryomushki in Chicago back in 2012.
This evening we have Herculanum by Félicien David. Anyone seen that? Meanwhile this afternoon we have one of the famous "Shorts" - William Walton's The Bear. Will be fun! Well everything is irresistible in this remarkable place!