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RODERIC DUNNETT reports from the continuing Opera Festival


 << Continued from Thursday 

Of this year's three main house productions, it was Italy which stole the laurels (in the form of Umberto Giordano's Siberia, a production staged with superb economy and loving insight by Fabio Sparvoli, sympathetically designed by Giorgio Ricchelli and conducted with an enhancing feel for the piece's seamless dramatic ebb and flow by Wexford's new principal conductor, Daniele Callegari.

Dario Volonte in 'Siberia', Photograph copyright (c) Derek SpeirsTrue, like some other Italian verismo operas of its time, the plot is on the thin side. But the characterisation here was easily strong enough to sustain it, and it contains a sufficient supply of show-stopping solo and duet writing. The production (with an effective Chekovian set plus admirable shading from Vincenzo Raponi, who designed the lights for all three operas) not only looked and sounded good, but also introduced the week's most fabulous voice, the tenor Dario Volonté, a fellow Argentinian and pupil of Jose Cura, in the hero's role as Vassili. Elena Zelenskaia and Claudia Marchi in 'Siberia'. Photograph copyright (c) Derek SpeirsThe story, a classic tale of love and jealousy, was further enhanced by the vocal quality of Elena Zelenskaia (Stephana), Walter Donati (as the high-class pimp, Gleby) and Claudia Marchi (Nikona). Giordano's music for Siberia merges 'The Volga Boatman' with 'Arrivederci, Roma' - but to pretty stunning effect.


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Copyright © Roderic Dunnett, October 23rd 1999 


Festival continues till Oct 31 (Box Office : +353 53 22144; Office : 22400).

The Wexford Festival Opera website, giving detailed information about this year's operas plus a further selection of colour photos, can be visited at

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