Mezzo-Soprano Anna Brady from County Dublin and Bass-Baritone Rory Dunne from County Kildare were named winners of the PwC-Wexford Festival Opera 2020 'Emerging Young Artist' Bursary. This initiative serves to support and celebrate Ireland's Emerging Young Artists from the opera world and helps to contribute towards the many costs associated with furthering their careers.
To mark the occasion Anna and Rory took to the stage of the world-renowned National Opera House to take a bow, with just an audience of two people socially distanced in the auditorium, Wexford Festival Opera (WFO) Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi and Jean Delaney Tax Partner at PwC.
PwC-Wexford Festival Opera 2020 Emerging Young Artist Bursary winners Anna Brady and Rory Dunne with Wexford Festival Opera Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi and Jean Delaney, Tax Partner at PwC Ireland.
This is a time of change and arts and business are both responding to the current COVID-19 climate. WFO has responded by totally reimagining their programme which will now be delivered in a virtual format this October, free for audiences to view at home.
PwC is also helping clients to respond to the challenges that lie ahead for their businesses in these unprecedented times. The firm recognises that supporting and celebrating young talent, including emerging young artists such as Anna and Rory, continues to be vital for future growth and success.
Mezzo-Soprano 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. Her performing experience includes Annina in La Traviata with Fife Opera, Margot-Froufrou in The 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 (RCS).
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 Wexford Festival Opera, Lyric Opera Productions, Irish National Opera, Cork Opera, Opera Collective Ireland and Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.
Wexford Festival Opera Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi said, "Over the years, Wexford Festival Opera has become known as a springboard for young emerging artists – somewhere that nurtured them early in their careers and helped them fly. With the help of loyal partners like PwC we can continue to raise young talent and provide them with a platform, which is even more fundamental during these challenging times".
Jean Delaney, Tax Partner at PwC, said "PwC has a long history of championing talent development and recognises that, no matter what the economic climate, having the right skills is key to success. It's so encouraging to see Wexford Festival Opera adapt so seamlessly to the new environment and, with their exciting productions and superb talent, continue to bring great joy to so many people. We are delighted to support these two budding artists and wish them every success in the future".
The 69th Wexford Festival Opera is supported by grants from the Arts Council, Wexford County Council and Fáilte Ireland-Ireland's Ancient East.
Wexford Festival Opera will present 'Waiting for Shakespeare …The Festival in the air' an online celebration of music from 11-18 October. It will still encompass many of the artistic ambitions already set out by Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi earlier in the year, principally to nurture the talents of the best young Irish singers through the mentorship of world-renowned artists who share a love of Wexford. This reimagined Festival aims to bring together audiences and the wider worldwide Wexford community through the power of music.
The Festival will now run for eight consecutive days and during this time, audiences from home and abroad will be invited to experience the magic of Wexford Festival Opera online from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Further details of where and how to join in will be announced shortly.
The inaugural Wexford Factory, a professional development academy for young Irish or Irish-based singers has been retained as a key part of this year's reimagined Festival. Participants will be tutored by some of the most celebrated professionals in opera today, including acclaimed tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who appeared in Wexford at the very beginning of his international career, coming full circle. Wexford Factory participants will also perform scenes from Verdi's Falstaff from the stage of the National Opera House, streamed in an episodic format over six consecutive days.
The Festival will open with Rossini's Petite messe solennelle, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will close with the highly anticipated Lisette Oropesa concert. Other events will include a star-studded Gala concert, featuring some of the opera world's top performers, most of whom performed in Wexford early in their careers, a special dinner time recital by the celebrated Irish soprano Celine Byrne, as well as a new opera by Artist-in-Residence, composer Andrew Synnott. A community element will remain with a series of pop-up performances which will take place daily in Wexford town in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
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