Wexford Festival Opera on RT… Player: Stanford’s The Veiled Prophet available to view online

The project presented at last year’s

Wexford Festival Opera
in association with Heritage Music Productions, founded and produced by
international pianist and broadcaster Una Hunt, was a momentous milestone
in the quest to recover Irish opera from oblivion and was thus supported by
a major grant from the Arts Council of Ireland. The opera was recorded live
by RT… lyric fm for radio broadcast and was included as part of the
European Broadcasting Union Premium Opera Series which is heard by millions
of listeners across the globe. This is the first complete presentation to
take place in more than 125 years, making it a ‘must-see’ for newcomers to
opera and connoisseurs alike.



The opera has other Irish connections in addition to the composer as it is
based on part of the enormously successful oriental romance, Lalla Rookh, by Irish poet and national songwriter, Thomas Moore.
The production, conducted by David Brophy, was performed by a predominantly
Irish cast including soprano SinÈad Campbell-Wallace, tenor Gavan Ring,
mezzo-soprano MairÈad Buicke, and bass/baritone John Molloy. The title role
is sung by the young Polish baritone, Simon Mechlin?ski and the superb
Wexford Festival Chorus is augmented by the Chorus from TU Dublin

The NYC based Opera News Magazine hailed the opera: “Stanford’s sense of
structure and his ear for orchestration are very strong.”

Producer Una Hunt said, “The reawakening of The Veiled Prophet
after an absence of more than a century fulfills a personal dream in seeing
this magnificent opera spring back to life. Its launch on the RT… Player
means it can now be appreciated and enjoyed by audiences around the world.”

Aod·n ” Dubhghaill, Managing Director, RT… lyric fm, Orchestras, Quartet
& Choirs, commented, “As well as being a versatile pianist who has
performed concertos with the RT… National Symphony Orchestra, the RT…
Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra, Una Hunt is a leading authority
in the field of historic Irish music of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries. RT… lyric fm has worked closely with Una on many projects,
across many platforms including radio broadcasts, CDs, books, documentaries
and features, to create awareness of the wonderful music-making that took
place on the island of Ireland during those centuries. We were delighted
when Una approached us to get involved in her latest project, the
first-ever performance in English of The Veiled Prophet by Dublin-born
composer, Charles Villiers Stanford in performance at last year’s Wexford
Festival Opera and we have no doubt that you will enjoy the fruits of her
work for many years to come.

David McLoughlin, CEO of Wexford Festival Opera added, “Wexford Festival
Opera is built on the artistic foundations of presenting rare and unjustly
neglected opera works to national and international audiences, illustrated
by it previously winning the award for Best Rediscovered Work at the
International Opera Awards. In recent years it has also pioneered, in
association with RT…, the wider dissemination of opera performances by way
of live streaming and web download. Wexford was therefore honoured to have
been the location for the staging of this rediscovered opera work of great
Irish and international significance. We are equally pleased that one of
the highlights of last year’s Festival will be available to view and enjoy
by audiences around the world on the RT… Player, similar to some of
Wexford’s other recent stagings.”

Very few professional performances have been given of Charles Villiers
Stanford’s operas in the last century, and many other parts of his musical
outlook remain neglected. Mostly remembered these days for his
late-Victorian church music, the Anglo-Irish composer enjoyed a full and
varied career. Indeed, there is much more to the Dublin-born Stanford
(1852-1924) than most modern listeners realise, and in particular, his
symphonies, concertos and Irish Rhapsodies are a joy to discover. Stanford
was also a prolific opera composer, but recognising the hopelessness of
pursuing an operatic career at home, he turned to Germany and it was in
Hanover that the first of his ten operas, The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, was premiered in 1881.

Sarah Ryder, Assistant Commissioning Editor, Documentary & Arts at RT…
also commented, “It’s a real honour for RT… to partner with Una Hunt and
the brilliant people at Wexford Festival Opera to bring another very
special WFO production to audiences in Ireland and overseas on the RT…
Player. More than ever, in these worrying times, we are seeing how music
and the arts are bringing joy and solace to people, and we hope that this
gorgeous production of The Veiled Prophet will bring much-needed pleasure
and inspiration to many, many households in the weeks and months ahead.”

There are two other WFO productions still available to view on the RT…
Player, Il bravo by Saverio Mercadante (2018) (https://www.rte.ie/player/find?q=il%20bravo) and Dorilla in Tempe by Antonio Vivaldi (2019) (https://www.rte.ie/player/find?q=dorilla).

Select scenes are also available on the Festival’s YouTube channel: