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PwC extend their support of Wexford Festival Opera academy

14 June, 2022

PwC announces extended new two-year sponsorship of Wexford Factory as 2022-2023 Factory Artists are unveiled

  • Supporting 16 artists giving them 'wings to fly' in their careers
  • Wexford Factory, Wexford Festival Opera Academy for young Irish and Irish-based singers
A photo of (from left to right): Randall Shannon, Megan O'Neill, Jean Delaney and Emily Hogarty.

Artists from the 2022-23 Wexford Factory unveiled as PwC extend their support of Wexford Festival Opera academy for young Irish and Irish-based singers. To celebrate the announcement Factory Artists came to sing for PwC staff at their Dublin offices.

Today the new participants of the Wexford Factory were announced. The brainchild of Wexford Festival Opera's (WFO) Artistic Director, Rosetta Cucchi, the Wexford Factory is a professional academy for young Irish and Irish-based singers, which will commence prior to the beginning of rehearsals for this year's Festival.

PwC will continue their sponsorship of Wexford Factory, with a newly announced two-year partnership which will cover the 2022-2023 term .This new sponsorship strengthens the partnership between PwC and Wexford Factory, showcasing their support of the ‘Arts and Culture’ sector and their commitment to supporting projects which make a valuable impact to our society.

Nurturing artists and showcasing the talents of young singers has long been a cornerstone of Wexford Festival Opera. Many of today's world leading Opera artists performed in Wexford early on in their careers. The dedication, sacrifice and hard work which are needed to succeed in a career such as opera are also those that are needed to succeed in business. PwC has supported the Wexford Festival Opera since 2015 and has been steadfast in their support of emerging future leaders in the worlds of art, sport and business. WFO is delighted to have PwC as valued partners on this exciting venture.

The 2022-2023 Factory participants will now embark on a two-year journey with Wexford Festival Opera which will see them take part in a professional development academy this September, as well as perform in the 2022 Festival and have the chance to take part in an international exchange. The Factory was designed to mentor young singers through masterclasses led by internationally recognised artists and professionals. Guest tutors will include Sonia Ganassi, Alfonso Antoniozzi and Ernesto Placio.

The 2022-2023 Wexford Factory artists unveiled

The 2022-2023 participants have been announced as 16 singers: Deirdre Arratoon, Michael Bell, Seán Boylan, Eoin Foran, Ami Hewitt, Emily Hogarty, Corina Ignat, William Kyle, Peter Lidbetter, Sarah Luttrell, Giorgi Manoshvili, Hannah O'Brien, Megan O'Neill, Leah Redmond, Richard Shaffrey, Nikolai Zemlianskikh. Find out a little more about them below.

Speaking of the Factory and PwC partnership, WFO Executive Director Randall Shannon said: "PwC has been a valued supporter of Wexford Festival Opera for many years. Their values perfectly reflect our own objectives: to support emerging artists and provide platforms to further their careers. The Wexford Factory reflects an exciting time within the Festival's development and having the support of PwC is vital to its sustainability and expansion".

Speaking at the launch, Jean Delaney Partner at PwC said: "Supporting diverse young talent to reach their potential is a priority at PwC. Our support of this important professional development academy at the Wexford Factory is a perfect fit with our brand. We wish all of the artists great success in their future careers".

Speaking of her reasons for developing the Wexford Factory, WFO Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi 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 artists the opportunity to grow; giving them wings to fly in their careers".

Notes to editors

Graduating students will perform in a main staged production of Cinderella by the 17-year-old Alma Deutscher which will be performed this October in the National Opera House during the Festival.

The Wexford Factory III edition is an international collaboration, with TUD (Technological University Dublin), RIAM (Royal Irish Academy of Music) and the Rossini Opera Festival "Alberto Zedda" Academy, Pesaro. In recognition of this two international artists will also join the Factory.

Public Booking is now open for the 71st Wexford Festival Opera which will run for 17 wonderful days and nights from 21 October to 6 November 2022. The festival is once again looking forward to welcoming audiences to experience for themselves the magic of Wexford Festival Opera in the stunning National Opera House this autumn.

Artistic Director Rosetta Cucchi's 2022 programme is built around the theme of Magic and Music and will feature three main stage operas, La tempesta, Lalla Roukh and Armida each of which will be performed over four nights and a production of Cinderella written by 17-year-old composer Alma Elizabeth Deutscher; two Pocket opera or Opera beag. The Master is based on the award-winning novel by Colm Tóibín and The Spectre Knight by Alfred Cellier. In addition, the programme also includes The Selenites a newly commissioned opera by the WFO 2022 Artist-in-Residence Conor Mitchell, a Gala concert with orchestra by celebrated Mezzo Soprano Daniela Barcellona, a special treat with a Concert featuring Barry Douglas, an exciting series of Recitals and Pop-Up Events at various locations around the town.

Deirdre Arratoon

Irish mezzo soprano Deirdre Arratoon is fast becoming known for her warm and velvety timbre. Deirdre graduated from the National University of Ireland Maynooth with first class BA honours degree in music and secured a scholarship to attend The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire as a postgraduate student. During her time in Birmingham, competition prizes included The Cecil Drew Oratorio Prize, The Ashleyan Opera Prize and second prize in the Edward Brooks English Song competition. Deirdre is also the 2021 winner of the Dame Felicity Lott recital award. After completing her studies in Birmingham, Deirdre was invited to join Glyndebourne Opera chorus as a soprano for their 2017 festival and tour. This summer Deirdre looks forward to joining Arun Choral Society and Sinfonia as mezzo soprano soloist for the Verdi Requiem at Arundel Cathedral, Brighton in April 2022 and The Grange Festival Opera, Hampshire, UK for their 2022 season. Deirdre is also excited to debut the role of Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte in Vienna with the Wiener Festspiele Orchestra as part of Vienna Opera Festival this July.

Michael Bell

Northern Irish Tenor Michael Bell is currently studying at the Royal College of Music with Russell Smythe having previously held a choral scholarship at St. John's College, Cambridge. He has a wide concert repertoire and has evangelised Bach's St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio. Also a keen recitalist, he has sung at the Lewes Festival of Song, the London Song Festival and the Drogheda Classical Music Festival. Michael's operatic roles have included Tamino, Nemorino and the Madwoman, a role he sang in the Moscow premiere of Curlew River. Michael's upcoming engagements include Bach, Finzi and MacMillan at the St Endellion Easter Festival, the Witch in the RCM's Hänsel und Gretel and der Sänger in Schreker's Flammen with the Lithuania State Orchestra. Michael is a Musicians' Company Young Artist and his studies are generously supported by the Irene Hanson Scholarship.

Seán Boylan

Irish baritone Seán Boylan studied on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He was an Alvarez Young Artist at Garsington Opera in 2019 and covered the title role of Don Giovanni, for which he received the Helen Clark Award. Recent and upcoming operatic engagements include Dancairo Carmen (English National Opera), Muezin Armida (Wexford Festival opera), title role Don Giovanni (Nevill Holt Opera), Tarquinius The Rape of Lucretia (Kammerakademie Potsdam), Guglielmo Così fan tutte (Garsington Opera), Moralès Carmen (Irish National Opera), cover Pluto-Aristaeus Orpheus in the Underworld (English National Opera) and cover Demetrius A Midsummer Night's Dream (Scottish Opera). Recent concert highlights include Handel's Messiah (Nevill Holt Opera), Bach's Christmas Oratorio (Deutscher Chor London); and recitals in the UK, USA and Ireland including a recital with National Symphony Orchestra at National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Eoin Foran

Baritone Eoin Foran graduated from the Royal Conservatoire Scotland master's degree in performance, under the guidance of Scott Johnson in 2022. A first-class Honours graduate of TU Dublin, Eoin studied with tenor Emmanuel Lawler. To date, Eoin has been a soloist on both the operatic and concert platform, in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Recent competition highlights include winner of the 2020 TU Dublin Gold Medal Recital Award, and second prize Royal Conservatoire Scotland Lieder competition 2021. Eoin sang with RCS Alexander Gibson Opera Studio in March 2022, playing the role of Immigration Officer in Jonathan Dove's Flight. In Summer 2022 he also looks forward to singing with British Youth Opera in Vaughan Williams' Sir John in Love and Duchy Opera company's production of The Gondoliers where he will sing the role of Giuseppe Palmieri.

Ami Hewitt

Ami Hewitt is a soprano from Dublin. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and TUD conservatory of Music and Drama, where she attained her BmusEd degree majoring in vocal performance. She more recently graduated with distinction from a master's degree in Voice and Opera at Conservatorium Maastricht in The Netherlands. Ami was a finalist in the Omroep Max (Dutch) inaugural televised program Aria, which is in association with Dutch National Opera and the National Youth Orchestra conducted by Leonard Evers. As an ABL aviation studio artist with INO during the 2021-22 season, Ami has enjoyed understudying the roles of Marzelline in Fidelio (Beethoven), Idaspe in Bajazet (Vivaldi), and Frasquita in Carmen (Bizet). Alongside the other studio members, Ami performed a program of arias and ensembles in University Concert Hall, Limerick, and Castletown house accompanied by Richard McGrath. The studio year culminated with a gala performance in the Gaiety theatre with the INO orchestra.

Emily Hogarty

Dublin-based Emily Hogarty is a 23-year-old Irish mezzo-soprano. She recently graduated from the TU Dublin Conservatoire in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin with a first-class Honours degree in Music Education (BMusEd). Emily specialised in performance, studying under the tutelage of Mairéad Buicke and Aoife O'Sullivan. Emily has been a soloist with Trinity Orchestra since 2017 where she has performed all around Ireland including the National Concert Hall in 2019 for their Golden Years performance. Emily performed Mozart's Smanie Implacabili in their 2022 Spring concert. Her performing experience also includes concert performances in the Mansion House and City Hall for President Michael D. Higgins as part of the 1916 memorial in 2016. Emily has also musically directed Chicago by Kander and Ebb which premiered in the O'Reilly Theatre in February 2019 in Dublin. She is currently in the chorus of Maria Stuarda with INO and will be playing Dorabella with Vienna Opera Academy in July.

Corina Ignat

Born in Romania, soprano Corina Ignat completed her master's and bachelor's degrees in Music Performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Her operatic roles include Clorinda in the Irish National Opera production of La Cenerentola, the Cousin in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with Lyric Opera Productions at The National Concert Hall, Arminda in Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera and Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. She performed in the chorus of several INO productions during her master's, including Wexford Festival Opera 2017. She performed several recitals such as the Summer Recital Series in Belfast and A Taste of Italian Opera at the Italian Institute of Culture, Dublin. Corina has won several prizes including First Prize in the Irené Sandford Competition for Singers, the Geoghegan Cup in the Feis Ceoil 2018, Very highly commended in the Dramatic Cup and Lieder Prize as part of the Feis Ceoil 2018.

William Kyle

William Kyle is a baritone from Warwickshire who recently completed his master's degree at the Royal Northern College of Music, studying with Quentin Hayes. His past opera roles include Benoît in La bohème (Outreach Opera) and for RNCM Opera he has performed Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro, Ein Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Harašta in The Cunning Little Vixen, Herald in The Pilgrim's Progress and Géolier in Dialogues des Carmélites. In 2022, William will appear as an Associate Artist with Nevill Holt Opera where he will perform as Ufficiale in Il barbiere di Siviglia and as part of the chorus for La bohème. William will also make his debut with British Youth Opera, taking the role of Page in their production of Sir John in Love.

Peter Lidbetter

Peter Lidbetter is a British-Irish lyric bass from London. He performs with Bergen Nasjonale Opera and the Edvard Grieg Kor in Norway under Edward Gardner and Opera Holland Park, Buxton Festival Opera and Flat-Pack Opera among others in the UK. Peter holds an MMus and PGdip in vocal performance from the Royal Northern College of Music (both with distinction), where he won the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Award for graduating singers and the Brigitte Fassbaender Award for Lieder and was a finalist in the Gold-Medal competition for all students. He was part of the Wexford Festival Opera Chorus in 2021 and participates in the Wexford Factory as a Young Artist this year. Peter began singing in the Anglican choral tradition at the age of eight. He studied music at the University of Cambridge and was a choral scholar and, later, lay-clerk at St John's College. His teacher is Nicholas Powell.

Sarah Luttrell

Irish mezzo-soprano Sarah Luttrell is an honours graduate of the TU Dublin Conservatoire and is currently a Masters student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she is the recipient of the 'RCS Trust Postgraduate Scholarship'. Sarah has performed with Irish National Opera, Lyric Opera, Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and Northern Ireland Opera. She has sung various roles in Opera Scene Concerts, most recently as Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare and Idamante in Mozart's Idomeneo. Sarah is a multi-award winner of the ESB Feis Ceoil where she was most recently awarded the Mrs. J.P Geoghegan Memorial Cup. In 2021, Sarah won first prize in the Alto Cup and The Margaret Burke-Sheridan. At the Birr Festival of Music's Trench Awards, she was awarded the Canto al Serchio prize for voice. In 2020 she was selected as a finalist for the Charles Wood Song Competition and Northern Ireland Opera's Glenarm Festival of Voice.

Giorgi Manoshvili

Giorgi Manoshvili graduated from the Vano Sarajishvili State Conservatory in Tbilisi, specialising in Traditional and Ecclesiastical Music. He has performed in many concerts and recitals including at the Unesco Headquarters in Paris, National Theater by Taichun, Berliner Philharmonie, National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing and PI Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow. He performed the role of Lord Sidney in Il viaggio a Reims in Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro in August 2021 and was reconfirmed for the 2022 Season for the Entertainment or Tribute to Pier Luigi Pizzi and for Rossini's Petite messe solennelle conducted by Michele Mariotti. Giorgi Manoshvili is The Colonel in the new production at the Teatro delle Muse, Ancona of Donizetti's Il giovedì grasso. His upcoming engagements include Colline in La bohème, Teatro dell'Roma: TV production directed by M. Martone, Silva in Ernani, in Verdi's Requiem, Filippo II in Bulgaria, in Pesaro ROF, and Lodovico in Verdi's Otello in Piacenza, Cappelio Bianca e Fernando in Pesaro R.O.F, Banquo in Macbeth.

Hannah O'Brien

Hannah O'Brien is a soprano from Drogheda, Co. Louth. She is currently studying with Elizabeth Ritchie, having completed her master's and BA in The Royal Irish Academy of Music under Sylvia O'Regan. She played the role of Il Destino and Linfea in Cavalli's La Calisto, Caper in Purcell's The Fairy Queen and Nance Farrell in Stephen McNeff's ‘Banished’. Hannah performed in Celebration of the Voice hosted by Drogheda Classical Music as well as the premiere of Michael Holohan's song cycle The Hills are Crying. She will be performing the role of Polly in a film adaptation of Kevin O'Connell's DreamCatchr, which is to be released in 2022. She was awarded the Gaiety Bursary in 2018 and has received numerous prizes in competitions including The Veronica Dunne - Operatic Ensemble at the ESB Feis Ceoil, Best Aria prize in the Irene Sanford Competition, Lieder Prize and Young cup at ESB Feis Ceoil.

Megan O'Neill

Irish soprano Megan O'Neill is from Co.Kerry and is in second year of the Doctor in Music Performance Degree at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She completed the BMus Degree in Maynooth University in 2018 and graduated with a first-class Honours degree. She also completed the master's in Music Performance Degree at RIAM in 2020 where she also received a first-class Honours. In the 2022 Feis Ceoil, Megan was the winner of the German Government Cup and the Gervase Elwes Memorial Cup. She was also awarded the 2022 RDS Music Bursary of 15,000EUR. Megan played the role of Signora Avoglio in All the Angels by Nick Drake, which took place in the Everyman Theatre, Cork, and Smock Alley, Dublin in 2021. She played the role of teen polar bear in The Scorched Earth Trilogy which was released in March 2022 with Irish National Opera and Dumbworld Production Company. Megan will play the lead role of Jane in the film opera ‘DreamCatchr’, which will take place in 2023.

Leah Redmond

Originally from Co. Kildare, Irish soprano Leah Redmond is in the final year of her master's degree at the Royal College of Music, London where she is the Rose Williams scholar. She previously graduated from the Royal Irish Academy of Music with a first-class Honours degree under Dr. Veronica Dunne and Dr. Dearbhla Collins. In March 2020 she premiered the Evangelia Rigaki piece If Words are Water in a series of concerts in New York and in 2019 made her debut in Ireland's National Concert Hall accompanied by James Vaughan. Operatic roles include Erste knabe in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart), Sarah Peterson in Banished (Stephen McNeff) and Constancy in Scipio's Dream (Judith Weir). A recipient of The Lyons Club Bursary at The Trench Award, Leah is a Mozart Singing Competition semi-finalist and in 2018 was named Royal Irish Academy of Music's Most Promising Performer in the Irené Sandford Singing Competition.

Richard Shaffrey

Richard Shaffrey studies on the RCS MMus Opera Course, where he performed the roles of Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte, Lechmere in Owen Wingrave and Tristan in Le Vin herbé. In the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Richard played the role of Albert in Albert Herring and Schoolmaster in The Cunning Little Vixen. He played Tenor in Ulysses-Opera's Flatpack, sang in the Wexford Festival Opera Chorus (2013-14), Grange Park Opera chorus (2015) and the Wide Open Opera Chorus. After completing a DipMus Performance at the RIAM, he was accepted onto the Northern Ireland Opera Young Artists' Programme. He played the role of Gastone in Clonter Opera's La Traviata, while understudying Alfredo and performed the role of Il Cancelliere in Wexford Festival Opera's 2016 production of Maria de Rudenz. Richard is very grateful to be generously supported by the RCS Trust, the Irish Arts Council and the South Square Trust.

Nikolai Zemlianskikh

Russia-born baritone Nikolai Zemlianskikh joined the Young Artist Program of the Bolshoi Theater in the 2019-20 season. In 2019 he performed at the Bolshoi Theatre for Alexandra Pakhmutova's 90th anniversary concert and took part in the 10th anniversary of the Young Artist Program Gala Concert. In 2020, he completed an internship at the Music Academy of the 13th Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi. The 2020-21 season saw him participating in the Music of World War II: Remembering the Shared Sacrifice of Allied Nations concert, the concert at the Great Hall of the Moscow conservatory to commemorate the 125 Anniversary of the Russian poet Sergei Esenin and the World Opera Day Celebration Concert. After graduating in 2015, Nikolai entered the St. Petersburg Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory where he is currently completing his musical studies at the Vocal Department. His performances at the conservatory include such roles as Silvio in I Pagliacci and Il Barone in La Traviata.


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