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 Age of Marie Antoinette, rediscovered, is the theme of the 2022 season of Opera Lafayette, with three programs featuring French music from the 1760s to 1780s and a unique focus on its resonance in America:

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

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

– Tuesday, June 7 at 7:00 AM at El Museo in New York City

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

-Wednesday, June 8, 2022 7:00 am at El Museo in New York City

Concert Spirituel aux Caraïbes (Spiritual Concert of the Caribbean) with music by Gossec, Dalayrac, Pergolesi, among others, with a critical look at the significance of French music in the Caribbean colonies.

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

-Thursday, June 9, 7:00 am at El Museo in New York City

This 1770 one-act opera-comique by André Grétry, to a libretto by Jean-François Marmontel, has been re-staged in the 19th-century American Southwest. The politics of the pastoral theme, centered on certain rights of French peasants to use land owned by the nobles, resonates with historical conflicts in this hemisphere. Silvain was a favorite of Marie Antoinette and one of Grétry’s most popular early operas. It was also the first opera to be performed in New Orleans in 1796. The production will feature the Opera Lafayette Orchestra conducted by Artistic Director Ryan Brown and will be directed by 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 surtitles

Pedro Memelsdorff, whose research focuses on music in the French colonies in the Caribbean, devises a program of French music performed between 1760 and 1790. The musical life of the colonies included enslaved, formerly enslaved, and free peoples. The program examines the extraordinarily complicated dynamics between the musical culture of Imperial France and the people of the Caribbean. Well-known French composers of 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 befits a daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie-Antoinette was educated in music and dance. After marrying the French Dauphin in 1770 and becoming Queen of France in 1774, she became the patroness of contemporary composers and performed regularly as a harpist in her own salon. This program takes the listener to Versailles to hear airs and chamber works by 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 of Kourou in Guinea, among others. Sandrine Chatron, harp, makes a program with tenor Nicholas Phan and soprano Sophia Burgos, among others, with violinist Jacob Ashworth and flautist Charles Brink. Sung in French with English surtitles.

There is a pre-performance discussion one hour before each performance. Each of these programs includes both in-person and online seminars, which will be announced in the new year, along with our popular Opera Starts with Oh! a series of educational classes created by Opera Lafayette to introduce a young audience to the magic of opera.

I am still faithful to my dear harp.

Marie Antoinette January 13, 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 great pleasure. Marie Antoinette June 13, 1776

In a letter to her mother Empress Maria Theresa

he preeminent American interpreter and producer of operatic instruments from the 17th to 19th centuries and an international leader in this repertoire. Based on meticulous research and the creation of modern performance editions, the company’s immersive performances and recordings of rediscovered gems and historical masterpieces emphasize the works’ original appeal and introduce a new generation to their contemporary relevance.

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