LSM Newswire

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wexford Opera House Opens Tonight

Taoiseach opens Irelands First Custom Built Opera House in Wexford

(Wexford, Ireland: Friday September 5, 2008) Irelands cultural landscape has been magnificently transformed now that An Taoiseach, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., has officially opened the countrys first custom-built Opera House in Wexford.

Nestled amongst the narrow streets of Wexford Town in the South East of Ireland on the former site of the Theatre Royal, the Wexford Opera House is a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose performing arts institution, which blends organically into its surroundings and boasts panoramic views of Wexford town and far beyond, including Mount Leinster and Tuskar Rock Lighthouse.

Home to the annual Wexford Festival Opera (this year celebrating its 57th anniversary), the Wexford Opera House will run year-round as a cultural institution with a full programme of events on a local, national and international scale. As well as providing a first-class home for proposed resident dance and theatre companies, the Wexford Opera House will also house the Opera Festivals administration; an unprecedented level of artistic activity in one building.

Speaking at the official opening An Taoiseach, Mr Brian Cowen T.D. said This is a wonderful occasion in the history of the town and Wexford Festival Opera. The Wexford Festival is one of Irelands most important cultural events and this landmark structure provides a state-of-the-art opera house and a centre of cultural and artistic activity, worthy of the Festival.

The impressive, skyline-enhancing building was designed and project-managed by the Office of Public Works, in association with UK-based Keith Williams Architects. Over four times larger than the previous Theatre Royal, the Wexford Opera House comprises a main auditorium the OReilly Theatre which can seat up to 780 people for opera and orchestral performances and up to 864 people for non-orchestral events. A second, highly flexible space - the Jerome Hynes Theatre - has a retractable seating capacity of 175.

The Ǩ26 million Government investment in the Wexford Opera House by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism augmented by a further Ǩ7m being raised by the Wexford Festival Foundation from the private sector will ensure a legacy in opera for generations to come.

Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism added: "The ambition and achievement of this new Opera House with its magnificent main auditorium, is a matter of both local and national significance. The new venue incorporates a wonderful design, which will attract an increasing number of visitors to Wexford far into the future to enjoy the annual opera festival and also the range of other planned artistic activity."

Dramatically skimming the Wexford skyline, the Wexford Opera House brings a new standard of theatre design to Ireland in its attention to detail and high quality in every aspect of development and construction. A focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly design from the outset means that minimal waste, efficient use of energy and renewable materials are standard throughout this spectacularly re-developed, re-imagined site.

Dr Martin Mansergh, Minister of State at the Department of Finance with Special Responsibility for the Office of Public Works and the Arts said, "The new Wexford Opera House, the first to be purpose-built on this island, is a wonderful architectural achievement, a recognition of the long-standing success and importance of the Festival, and an immense addition to our cultural infrastructure, which will give huge pleasure to music lovers."

To ensure the highest possible quality of sound throughout the auditorium, international acoustic experts from Arup were contracted to produce a well-balanced and clear reverberation, perfectly complementing voice and orchestra performance. Arup has designed the acoustics in such establishments as the Royal Opera House, London and Copenhagen Opera House; their skills enable Wexford Opera House to enter this premier and exclusive Opera House league at perfect pitch.

Chair of Wexford Festival Trust, Paul Hennessy said: The opening of Wexford Opera House signals a bright and exciting new chapter in the history of our organisation and is a watershed for Opera in Ireland. We are delighted to finally have a world-class facility appropriate to the international reputation of our Festival. We can now raise our artistic ambitions to further enhance the renown of our Festival and to distinguish this venue as a place of excellence for the performing arts in Ireland.

Following the opening ceremony, RT will broadcast the first programme in the new season of The Late Late Show from the OReilly Theatre, allowing a live audience as well as thousands of TV viewers a sneak preview of the beautiful space.

A free, ticketed open day on September 7th (which booked out in a few hours) will give the local residents an opportunity to explore the Wexford Opera House before the casts and crew move in to commence rehearsals on September 15th. The first full opera performance will take place on the Festivals gala opening on October 16th. Ticket sales are already exceeding previous years with many punters eagerly anticipating not only the opera experience but also the chance to be among the first enjoying the state of the art facilities in this exquisite, walnut lined auditorium.

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