Opera Lafayette’s THE ERA OF MARIE ANTOINETTE, REDISCOVERED Performances Announced In NYC and DC

Opera Lafayette’s The Era of Marie Antoinette, Rediscovered performances have been announced in New York and Washington DC.

The Era of Marie Antoinette, Rediscovered, the theme of Opera Lafayette’s 2022 season, with three programs of French music from the 1760’s through 1780’s and a unique focus on its resonance in the Americas:

Silvain, a fully staged modern premiere of Grétry’s 1770 opera, much admired by Marie Antoinette, and the first opera performed in New Orleans (1796).

-Thursday, June 2 and Friday, June 3, 7:30 at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC

-Tuesday, June 7, 7:00 at The Museum in New York City

The Musical Salon of Marie Antoinette, a chamber concert featuring works by Gluck, Chevalier de Saint Georges, Hinner and others.

-Wednesday, June 8, 2022 7:00 at The Museum in New York City

Concert Spirituel aux Caraïbes (Spiritual Concert of the Caribbean) with music by Gossec, Dalayrac, Pergolesi, and others, with critical eye on the meaning of French music in Caribbean colonies.

-Thursday, June 10, 7:30 at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC

-Thursday, June 9, 7:00 at The Museum in New York City

This one-act opéra-comique from 1770 by André Grétry, with a libretto by Jean-François Marmontel, is restored in the 19thcentury American Southwest. The politics of its pastoral theme, centered upon certain rights of French peasants to use land owned by the nobles, resonate with historical conflicts in this hemisphere. Silvain was a favorite of Marie Antoinette and one of the most popular of Grétry’s early operas. It was also the first opera to be performed in New Orleans in 1796. The production features the Opera Lafayette Orchestra conducted by Artistic Director Ryan Brown and is directed by the young Mexican filmmaker Tania Hernandez Velasco, with costume design by Missy West and lighting and projection design by Josh Higgason. The cast includes Sophia Burgos (Hélène), Victor Sicard (Dolmon, Fils ainé, sous le nom de Silvain), Samantha Louis-Jean (Pauline), Teresa Castillo (Lucette), Jehú Otero

(Bazile), and Nathan Berg (Dolmon père). Sung in French, with dialogue in English, and English supertitles

Pedro Memelsdorff, whose research focuses on music in the French colonies in the Caribbean, conceives a program of French music performed between 1760 and 1790. The musical life of the colonies involved enslaved, formerly enslaved, and free peoples. The program addresses the extraordinarily complicated dynamics between the musical culture of imperial France and the people of the Caribbean. Well-known French composers from the 18th century and newly rediscovered works are represented in this orchestral concert with vocal soloists and ensemble. The cast includes Samantha Louis-Jean and Sophia Burgos (sopranos), Marketa Cukrova (mezzo-soprano), Jehú Otero (tenor), Victor Sicard (baritone), Jonathan Woody (bass-baritone), with The Opera Lafayette Orchestra conducted by Pedro Memelsdorff and lighting design by Josh Higgason. Sung in Latin and French with English subtitles.

As befitted a daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie-Antoinette had education in music and dance. After marrying the French Dauphin in 1770 and becoming Queen of France in 1774, she became a patron of contemporary composers and performed frequently as a harpist in her own salon. This program brings the listener into Versailles to hear airs and chamber works of Gluck and two composers whose lives were intertwined with the French colonies, the Caribbean-born Chevalier de Saint Georges, and Phillip Hinner, a survivor of the ill-fated colony Kourou in Guinea, among others. Sandrine Chatron, harp, creates a program including tenor Nicholas Phan and soprano Sophia Burgos, with violinist Jacob Ashworth and flutist Charles Brink. Sung in French with English supertitles.

A Pre-Performance Discussion will take place an hour before each performance. Accompanying each of these programs are both in-person and online seminars, to be announced in the New Year, along with our popular Opera Starts with Oh! a series of educational lessons created by Opera Lafayette to introduce young audiences to the magic of opera.

I am still faithful to my dear harp.

Marie Antoinette January 13th 1773

In a letter to her mother Empress Maria Theresa

My taste for music has not ended; I spend a lot of time on it and with a lot of pleasure. Marie AntoinetteJune 13th 1776

In a letter to her mother Empress Maria Theresa

he pre-eminent American interpreter and producer of period-instrument opera from the 17th through the 19th centuries and an international leader in this repertoire. Based on meticulous research and the creation of modern performing editions, the company’s compelling performances and recordings of rediscovered gems and historical masterpieces highlight the works’ original appeal and introduce a new generation to their contemporary relevance.

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