Rossini’s "Petite Messe solennelle"From the Wexford Festival Opera 2020

84 min
Available from 14/10/2020 to 10/10/2021

The opening concert of the virtual Wexford Festival Opera 2020 is dedicated to the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gioachino Rossini’s Petite Messe solonnelle is to be performed in its original version at the National Opera House in Wexford with Kenneth Montgomery at the rostrum and the soloists Claudia Boyle, Tara Erraught, Pietro Adaíni and John Molloy.

This year’s opera festival in the little seaside town of Wexford in Ireland was originally to have been devoted to operatic adaptations of Shakespeare. But like so many other festivals in this pandemic year, Wexford Festival Opera had to rethink its entire concept. No longer able to welcome opera lovers from all over the world, it relaunched the festival on the internet under the banner of “Waiting for Shakespeare ... The Festival in the air.”

Hence the decision to open this year’s event not with an opera, but with Gioachino Rossini’s Petite Messe solonnelle. Rossini composed this “little solemn Mass” – which at 90 minutes long is not actually “little” at all – in 1863, over thirty years after his last opera, Guillaume Tell. Never one to miss an opportunity of making a point, Rossini used the dedication to ask whether his work was sacred music or rather sacrilegious music.

The original version to be performed at the National Opera House Wexford is scored for two pianos, a harmonium, four soloists and chorus – a highly unusual ensemble rooted in the Neapolitan harpsichord tradition of the eighteenth century. Rossini wrote an orchestral version of the work shortly before his death, but only to prevent other composers from doing so, insisting that only the original version be performed during his lifetime.


  • With :
    • Claudia Boyle (soprano)
    • Tara Erraught (mezzo-soprano)
    • Pietro Adaíni (tenor)
    • John Molloy (bass)
    • Finghin Collins (piano)
    • Carmen Santoro (piano)
    • Andrew Synnott (harmonium)
  • Music director :
    • Kenneth Montgomery
  • Choir :
    • Wexford Factory Ensemble
  • Country :
    • France
    • Ireland
  • Year :
    • 2020