Hitting the Ground Running

August 12, 2017

Hitting the Ground Running

First port of call, the smart new Box Office on John street. Smiling helpfull staff who all looked about fifteen. Impressive advance media coverage on the walls and a striking external facade in blue, to lure in the punters.

Despite being a relative novice about Schubert and his works, both String Quartet No 13 ( Rosamunde ) and 14 ( Death and the Maiden ) had cadences and refrains that sounded familiar. For most of this 1st concert by Quatour Mosaiques I lent forward in my seat, drawn by some inexplicable force. Three words sum up what I enjoyed most about the works. Their delicacy, at other times their sumptuousness, but mostly their ability to invigorate. 

At the Festival launch in Butler House gardens, Eugene Downes was at his incisive and mellifluous best. Spotting Paul Fahy from Galway International Arts Festival amongst the guests, a stand off over Best Summer Arts Festival was mooted but happily never came to pass. It was great to see Hugh Canning, opera critic for the Sunday Times and Opera Magazine in attendance. Almost unrecognisable under a patrician beard, he'd swopped the Wexford formal regalia for a chic but casual summer look that Gustav Von Aschenbach would have envied. Also, it was delightful to see Veronica ( Ronnie ) Dunne, who has just successfully vaulted over the ninety year hurdle ( Congratulations ) and who was in as buoyant form as ever.

Stand offs were well to the fore in Julius Caesar in Egypt. Despite a brilliant cast being fielded, it mainly came down to a thrilling vocal battle between Iestyn Davies as Caesar and Anna Devin as Cleopatra for top honours. Both reached their final destination of love and harmony, neck and neck. A tumultuous audience response seemed to agree. The orchestra under conductor Christian Curnyn was impeccable, and there were some exquisite and surprising aria accompanyments by violin, flute and horn. Referencing Death in Venice earlier, my only two experiences of countertenors are from Britten operas, the second being A Midsummer Night's Dream. Rather like that old chestnut about waiting hours for the number nine bus and then three turn up at once, Julius Caesar sported two more countertenors in equally splendid voice - Rupert Enticknap and James Hall.  

JOE VANEK