National Opera House
"…the best small opera house in the world" - Hugh Canning on BBC Radio 3
On the 5th September 2008, the first artists stepped out onto the stage that would become the new home for not just opera in Ireland, but also for a variety of other performance art-forms. Through the doors of its modest façade, almost hidden from view as you walked along High Street Wexford, was Ireland’s first custom-built, multi-purpose opera house, situated on the footprint of the old Theatre Royal which had been the home to Wexford Festival Opera for over 50 years. Now it had a new home and over the next ten years artists from across all music and performing genres would find a home there too. The stunning design by Keith Williams won international acclaim and it quickly stood out as unique – unrivalled.
On the 5th September 2018, the National Opera House celebrated its 10th birthday. Rather than looking back, the team are looking forward; forward to the coming year of music and theatrical thrills; forward to the next ten years, as more and more local and national audiences continue to experience and explore this National treasure; forward to the next generation and the generations after that who will take pride in this stunning national building, its ever evolving history and the key role it plays in the cultural life of Ireland.
None of this would have been, or could have been possible without the considerable support of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which predominantly funded the original construction costs of the new facility a decade ago. Subsequently the Department approved the request to bestow the title of National Opera House on the facility in 2014, in recognition not just of the State’s significant investment in the creation of this national cultural asset, but also in acknowledgment of the fact that what is Ireland’s only purpose-built opera house fulfilled the very specific acoustic and architectural criteria to be deemed a National Opera House.