From small beginnings in 1951 the Wexford Opera Festival is now celebrating its 50th year.

In 1951 a small group of opera enthusiasts got together in the Theatre Royal in Wexford to present four performances composer Michael William Balfe's 'Rose of Castille'. The production starred Maureen Springer as Elvira, Murray Dickie as Manuel and Angela O’Connor as Carmen, accompanied by the Radio Éireann Light Orchestra. From modest beginning grew the national and international success of the Wexford Opera Festival.

Diarmuid Peavoy went to meet the organisers, composers, singers, musicians, patrons and locals to get their views on the festival. The Opera Festival attracts thousands of visitors from Ireland and abroad to Wexford each year, some of whom travel on board the opera train. 

David Agler of the Vancouver Opera talks about the variety of nationalities taking part in the festival.

The number of languages and countries represented here... it's a real United Nations which is good for us.

Irish singers Fiona O'Reilly (Soprano) and Fiona Murphy (Mezzo) describe how intimidating the festival can feel at first.

This special edition of 'Nationwide' compiled by Diarmuid Peavoy was broadcast on 17 October 2001. The report is introduced by Michael Ryan.