OPERA: It makes less sense than ever – but it isn’t ready to die

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 Wexford Opera House: a symbol of the Wexford Festival's cultural importance is in danger of becoming a white elephant

From the archives: In today's economic climate, opera houses are in trouble. Yet at the same time, more people are watching opera than ever before. What's going on, asks Rupert Christiansen.

It seemed all too grimly appropriate last week that Opera Europa - the umbrella support group and talking-shop for European opera houses - should be holding its annual conference as a sideshow to the Wexford Festival.

The reason? This small coastal Irish town contains what probably ranks as the biggest operatic white elephant in the EU: a spanking new theatre, with all mod cons and superfine fixtures, planned and built while the Celtic Tiger was roaring, but opened just as it feel silent.

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