I have had a wonderful day of pleasures. Joy in the beauties of this remarkable town of Wexford; a series of vivid reminders of the extraordinary character of this community as I met so many old friends who had played a part during my time in Wexford all those years ago; and I encountered a new generation of people of no less sterling quality who continue to carry the banner. Illustrative of this continuity is the fact that the Chairman of the Festival is Peter Scallan. He was a child when his father, Sean Scallan, was Chairman of the Festival for my last three years. And one of the Vice-Chairmen, Ger Lawlor, is the nephew of Sean Mitten, a Board member in my time, who was a first class bass member of the Chorus, and also Vice-Chairman.
This a community of breadth, strength and commitment, supported by a good many passionate national and international figures. The amazing achievement of building the new opera house could not have been done without the real backbone that these people have provided over the years.
I saw this beautiful building for the first time today. It opened in 2008. It has to be seen and heard to be believed. If ever there was a model for the perfect small opera house this must be it. It doesn't try to be clever - it follows basic design principals - a horseshoe modified as required just to ensure perfect sight lines for all. And the warmth of the sound is attributable no doubt to the gorgeous wood which lines the room - all apparently from the forests of Quebec. Really wonderful and a pleasure to be in even without the opera!
The opera performance this evening was the excellent production that Wexford co-produced with the Opera Theatre of St Louis, of The Golden Ticket. This operatic adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a huge hit in St Louis and so it is here. And I was delighted to see some distinguished contributions by past and future COT artists - Noah Stewart and David Trudgen from the recent past, and Frank Kelley who will be with us for Death and the Powers in April 2011.
Tomorrow is a busy day - a potted opera, a full opera, and a gala concert. Busy, busy! I will let you know. Too late now - it is 12.45 am and time for sleep.
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