On September 5, 2008 Wexford Opera House, now officially the National Opera House since 2014, opened its doors to the public with a very special live broadcast of The Late Late Show. Since then, it has presented thousands of local, national and international events including performances, conferences, workshops, and conferring ceremonies, which has brought in excess of two million people through its doors, while millions more have experienced the iconic venue through the many televised events that have taken place during this time. Some artists and production companies choose Wexford specifically to use for their rehearsals in preparation for their performances, owing to the perfect combination of venue facilities, the ability to walk from accommodation to venue with ease, great cafes/restaurants and of course the hospitality from the local community, fostered over decades from hosting artists during the world-renowned Opera Festival. It's been a game changer for the community and economy of Wexford, leading the way for other entertainment and events to grow and develop in the area.
There have been many highlights over the years and many challenges, but one of the consistent elements in its journey from concept to actuality, is current Chairman of the National Opera House, Paul Hennessey. Commenting on his long association with the National Opera House, Paul said, “As we reach another milestone in the story of the National Opera House, it is gratifying to note the exciting range and variety of work being presented throughout the year, and to see the patron community that has grown and developed around the activities in the House. The success of the venue is down to the National Opera House team who have shown huge commitment and resilience over the last fifteen years, sometimes in very challenging circumstances. The National Opera House has established itself as a key part of Ireland’s cultural infrastructure and is firmly at the heart of cultural activities in Wexford. It has a distinguished past and a bright future and I would encourage everyone to come and enjoy some of the exciting performances which we have programmed to celebrate our fifteenth birthday.”
Although consistently delivering a range of diverse and exciting programming, the National Opera House remains almost entirely dependent on box-office sales, donations, and voluntary commitment to continue to operate.
Plans are in place to mark the 15th birthday including a ’Donate €15 for 15 years’ competition. Those who donate €15 to the National Opera House will be entered into a draw to win tickets to attend events in the National Opera House in 2024. THREE lucky winners will receive FIVE pair of tickets each, that’s 15 pairs of tickets in total. And if that wasn't enough, some of Wexford's top and most generous businesses have kindly donated a few 'birthday presents' as additional prizes. The competition runs until Sunday, 31st December 2023. Visit the National Opera House website to enter.
The National Opera House, in addition to being the home of Wexford Festival Opera, is a year-round receiving venue which hosts local, national and international events including all genres of music, dance, theatre, spoken-word, comedy and education. It is also available for corporate events and as a unique and memorable wedding venue.
Keep up-to-date for the latest events and news on www.nationaloperahouse.ie, follow on social media and sign-up to receive the National Opera House newsletter.
Event highlights 2008-2023
IMRO music venue of the year 2016
8 National/International Design/Architecture Awards
Education & Community Programme established in 2021
Conferences - Theatre Forum, Opera Europa, Techovate, Conferring ceremonies, corporate events, workshops
State of the Art Facilities for the vibrant local drama and musical society organisations to perform
Local, National and international ballet and modern dance companies (before the NOH, Wexford wasn't able to host these companies)
1000s of local children have performed on the stage
2008 Late Late Show - 1st time broadcast outside of Donnybrook
2009 / 2010 Gradam Ceol TG4 - presented by Brendan Gleeson
2010 Fame - The musical based on the RTE competition
2011 The 49 Steps (West End theatre production)
2010 Moving Hearts
2010 Phil Coulter
2009 The Swell Season (Glen Hansard -just after his Oscar win)
2009 Colm Wilkinson in Concert
2009 Visit by Disney/Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz
2010 Cape Town Opera
2011 Julian Lloyd Weber – one of his last public performances ever
2012 Techovate Technology Conference
2013 Jedward - ahead of their Eurovision performance
2017 Snow Patrol
2017 David Gray (and in 2023)
2018 Noël - The Musical premiere (Eoin Colfer, Liam Bates) produced by Michael Londra
2019 RTÉ Carers' Choir - televised concert
2019 Gavin James
2022 Ghosts - starring Gabriel Byrne (Landmark Productions)
RTE Concert Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Co., Wallis Bird, Mary Black, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot (Beautiful South), The Waterboys, Foil, Arms & Hog, Dylan Moran, Eddie Reader, Rebecca Storm, Jack L, Declan O’Rourke, Mary Coughlan, Eleanor McEvoy, Daniel O’Donnell, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Leo Sayer, We Banjo 3, Cry Before Dawn (comeback performance) Aslan, Milwaukee Youth Orchestra, Brown University Orchestra, Cape Town Opera, Albert Hammond, Dara O’Briain, Irish National Opera, Tommy Tiernan.