I was prepared for Lise Davidsen to make an impact in Medea but yesterday evening somehow she managed to exceed my most extravagant expectations! She is just a phenomenal singer and how smart of David Agler to get her. I guess Wexford will not hear the like of this for many a year!
But there was more to it than just Miss Davidsen. There was an impressive Neris from an excellent Italian mezzo Raffaella Lupinacci. I have not come across her before but she is the complete deal, lovely voice, fine musician, and totally convincing energetic committed performer.
Fiona Shaw's production was beset with difficulties associated with hurricane Ophelia. The dress rehearsal was cancelled with power down, and being outside was dangerous with roofs flying off buildings! However by yesterday's second performance the message was coherent, and we had an excellent evening of music theatre which, while not to everyone's taste, was intellectually impeccable and hugely enjoyable.
And Stephen Barlow got first class playing from the Wexford Festival Orchestra which is clearly full of outstanding players - really distinguished wind soloists and string sections to match.
Medea and her doomed children
Yesterday morning I went to one of the "short works" - Rigoletto in a form edited to 95 minutes with no interval, with piano and cast with singers both from the chorus and from those in the main productions with less taxing roles enabling them to do more things.
It worked well in a large wide room in Whites Hotel. Notable were the strongly sung Rigoletto from Charles Rice (he had been Simonson in Risurrezione), Giuliana Gianfaldoni's neatly sung and charming Gilda (following her Giustina in Margherita), and a remarkable effort from chorister Aidan Coburn as an impressive Duke. He is worth keeping an eye on. These performances are a valuable part of the festival and important to those visitors who can never get enough opera!
I return to London this evening after yet another delightful weekend in this great place.