In advance of the opening of public booking on Saturday, 4 April, the
twelve singers chosen to take part in the inaugural Wexford Factory were
announced. A new initiative, established for the first time this year by
WFO Artistic Director, Rosetta Cucchi, the Wexford Factory is a two-week
academy for young Irish / Irish-based singers, which will take place in
early September, prior to the beginning of rehearsals for this year’s
Speaking of her reasons for developing the Wexford Factory, Rosetta said,
“The best memories of my life are associated with the academies I attended
in my youth. That is where I learned the true meaning of professionalism
and how I could continue to challenge myself as an artist. This is the
reason I decided to establish the Wexford Factory. It is the duty of every
highly regarded international festival such as Wexford to give a new
generation of singers the opportunity to grow; giving them wings to fly in
The Wexford Factory is designed to mentor young singers through
masterclasses led by internationally recognised artists and professionals.
Guest tutors will include world-renowned tenor Juan Diego-FlÛrez, Irish
soprano Celine Byrne, as well as Ernesto Palacio of the Rossini Opera
Festival and Dmitry Vdovin, head of the Bolshoi’s Young Artist programme.
Veteran Wexford Festival Opera director Roberto Recchia, Classical Music
journalist Michael Dervan, movement specialist Sara Catellani and Rosetta
Cucchi will also provide professional instruction.
Graduating students will perform in one of the Pocket Operas / Opera Beag
Shakespeare for Fun, a reduced production of Verdi’s Falstaff
which will be performed this October in the National Opera House.
The Wexford Factory is in collaboration with TUD (Technological University
Dublin), RIAM (Royal Irish Academy of Music) and CSM (Cork School of Music)
and in keeping with the International profile and reach of Wexford Festival
Opera, a partnership with the Bolshoi Academy, Moscow, the Rossini Opera
Festival, Pesaro, and Opera for Peace has also been established. In
addition to the twelve Irish and Irish-based singers, two young singers,
one from the Bolshoi Academy, Moscow and one from the Rossini Opera
Festival, Pesaro will also join this new initiative.
The twelve Irish or Irish-based singers have been announced as:
Anna Brady, Ava Dodd, Rory Dunne, Andrew Gavin, Francesca Federico, David
Howes, Kathleen Norchi, Conall William O’Neill, Jade Phoenix, Sarah
Richmond, Sarah Shine, Vladimir-Mihai Sima.
Anna Brady received her BA in Performance from the Royal Irish Academy of
Music in 2011 before studying for her Masters in Vocal Studies at the Royal
Conservatoire of Scotland, which she recently completed. She is a 2012/13
alumni of the Young Associate Artist Programme with Opera Theatre Company,
now amalgamated with Irish National Opera. Her performing experience
includes Annina in La traviata with Fife Opera, Margot-Froufrou inThe Merry Widow with Opera Bohemia and Daisy in The Next Station is Green Park with Opera Eos among others. Anna
is currently preparing to sing the role of Arnalta in L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Soprano Ava Dodd originally from Wicklow, is currently in her final year of
Bachelor of Music Performance (vocal studies) in RIAM and will continue on
to study her masters in London. She has been greatly inspired by her own
teacher Professor Mary Brennan, as well as artists including RenÈe Fleming
and Anna Netrebko. Ava was named the ‘Young Opera voice of 2019’ at the
Festival of Voice competition with Northern Ireland Opera. Ava has
performed in venues including the National Concert Hall Dublin, Project
Arts Centre, RDS Concert Hall, the Peacock Theatre and Kilmainham Gaol.
Kildare born bass-baritone Rory Dunne studied as an actor before he
realised that he wanted to pursue a career in opera when he first stood on
a stage, in full costume, in character and with an orchestra playing in the
pit and felt that it is the one place that he felt truly empowered. Rory
studied at TU Dublin Conservatoire and has gone on to perform with WFO,
Lyric Opera Productions, Irish National Opera, Cork Opera, Opera Collective
Ireland and Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.
Soprano Francesca Federico spent all her summers growing up with family in
west Cork and Kerry. Francesca received a Bachelor’s degree in Global
Politics and a Masters in Voice at the Mannes School of Music. Her interest
in classical music was sparked by seeing her first opera, Rigoletto at the
Met when she was 15. Now based in NYC Francesca is due to perform in
dell’Arte Opera’s 2020 summer festival and recently made her debut at the
Rose Theater at Lincoln Center.
Tenor Andrew Gavin from Navan, Co Meath, has performed with Wexford
Festival Opera on a number of occasions in 2015, 2016 & 2017. He was
recipient of the WFO / PwC Emerging Young Artist Bursary 2016. Graduating
with an M. Phil in Children’s Literature from Trinity College, Andrew was
awarded his Masters in Music Performance at the RIAM. Andrew made his debut
at Wigmore Hall as part of the ‘Irish Culture in Britain’ celebrations and
participated in a joint production with the Juilliard school, New York and
the RIAM, Ten Thousand Miles Away. Among the many awards he has won include
prizes at the ESB Feis Ceoil, the O’Mara Cup, the Plunket Greene Cup, and
the William T. Watt trophy for Tenor solo.
Bass-baritone David Howes, originally from Limerick completed his Bachelor
of Music Degree at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. David’s grandad
Harry, a self-taught bass singer, inspired him to pursue his singing
career, along with his parents’ staunch support. A graduate of the
distinguished Young Artist Programme with Northern Ireland Opera David has
worked with the Belfast Philharmonic Choir, performed in the world premiere
of Andrew Synnott’s opera, Dubliners at WFO 2017, Irish National Opera,
Buxton Opera Festival and Kilkenny Arts Festival.
Currently based in NYC, soprano Kathleen Norchi studied Music at the Boston
Conservatory of Music and her masters at the Mannes School of Music. With a
love of performance since she was very young Kathleen has performed with
Utopia Opera as well as in productions of Die Zauberflˆte, The Telephone, Carmen and Hansel and Gretel.
Bass Conall William O’Neill is based in London where he attended the Royal
College of Music (RCM) for both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in music
and performing. Most recently, he performed as Colline in Hampstead Garden
Opera’s production of La bohËme, singled out for his “powerful
bass voice and a knockout vecchia zimarra”. He also sang the role of
Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring for the Koninklijk Conservatoire
Antwerpen. Prior to studying at the RCM, Conall attended Imperial College
London, receiving a BSc of Biology degree. His father hails from New Ross,
Co. Wexford originally, so performing at the Festival adds an additional
element of excitement to his involvement.
Jade Phoenix is an Irish lyric soprano based in Greystones, Wicklow,
currently in her final year in the Royal Irish Academy of Music studying
with Prof. Mary Brennan and Dr. Dearbhla Collins. From September, she will
attend the Guildhall school of Music and Drama to begin her Masters in
Music Performance under the tutelage of Yvonne Kenny, having been awarded a
scholarship. In 2019, Jade performed the role of Charlotte Badger in the
opera Banished by Stephen McNeff, performed in Kilmainham Gaol,
Dublin. Upcoming performances include Kevin O¥Connell¥s contemporary opera DreamCatcher, an opera for two principal females which will be
performed in the Abbey Theatre.
Carrickfergus born mezzo-soprano Sarah Richmond made her Wexford Festival
Opera debut in 2015 in the critically acclaimed Guglielmo Ratcliff
by Mascagni, singing the role of Willie and returned in 2016 to sing the
principal role of Yelena in the ShortWorks production of The Bear
by William Walton. A recipient of the WFO / PwC Emerging Young Artist
Bursary 2016, Sarah graduated from the RNCM with a MMus (Distinction) and a
PG Dip Solo Performance (Distinction) as a Drapers’ de Turckheim Scholar.
Sarah has also performed with North West Opera, NI Opera/Nevill Holt Opera,
Wide Open Opera, Castleward Opera and more.
Limerick soprano Sarah Shine studied at the RIAM under Veronica Dunne who
has been her biggest inspiration in her career along with her grandmother
who encouraged a love of music from an early age. Sarah was a member of the
Salzburg Young Singers Project 2019 and has just finished two seasons as a
singer in residence at the AcadÈmie of Opera National de Paris. After a
performance at Palais Garnier in 2018, Sarah was awarded the Siemens Opera
Tenor Vladimir-Mihai Sima studied computer programming and International
Business/Economics before studying music and graduating from the Royal
Irish Academy of Music. Music has always been a part of his journey which
saw him start his own heavy metal band in his teens. The moment
Vladimir-Mihai discovered that this was what wanted to do in life was when
someone at work showed him a video of Placido Domingo singing ‘E lucevan le
stelle’ and this changed the course of his life. Some key productions to
date include Carmen, The Enchantress and La finta giardiniera.
Wexford Festival Opera runs from 20 Oct – 1 Nov 2020.
Find out more at wexfordopera.com
Priority booking is now open for all Friends.
General booking opens on Saturday, 4 April 2020.