Update from Boston


by Stephen Stubbs

Since May 15th, Gilbert Blin, Paul O’Dette and I have been leading rehearsals of our most ambitious Boston Early Music Festival Opera to date: Andre Campra’s Opera-Ballet called Le Carnaval de Venise. As the term Opera-Ballet implies, this show will have an even greater proportion of dance than other “spectaculars” we have put on over the years and there is also an expanded cast of singers on stage comprising, soloists, choirs and small roles (called Coryphee in the French tradition).

To manage the complexities of putting such an elaborate show together, we began by rehearsing the principal soloists with the continuo group in Boston, while simultaneously, choreographer Caroline Copeland began the dance work in New York at the Juilliard studios. In the following week we began the Young Artist’s Training Program – a program which we began several festivals ago, and this time has resulted in our biggest and best generation ever with nine singers and two dancers. All the young artists are on stage for the show, singing in choruses and small ensembles and the dancers integrated into the dance troupe. Also, as a company cold made the rounds of our solo singers, the young artists assigned roles to “cover” stepped valiantly into place and kept our rigorous rehearsal schedule (10am to 9pm every day except Sunday!) on schedule and working perfectly.

The magnificent structures which have made this all possible (the young artist’s program and the establishment of the BEMF dance company under the direction of Melinda Sullivan) are the brainchildren of our Director of Opera, Gilbert Blin. Lacking the infra-structure of an ongoing opera company, Gilbert foresaw that we needed such structures to face the daunting challenges of complex baroque operas without having to “reinvent the wheel” every two years. Other major improvements have been a wonderful group of interns for music, dance and drama departments which build networks of information between “BEMF central” where Executive Director, Kathy Fay, commands the organization’s operations, our stage management team and our army of artists and directors – now since the last few days, also including the BEMF orchestra under the direction of Robert Mealy.

This week is our last week of rehearsals – in which we need to finish the Campra as well as revive our wonderful chamber opera of a Pergolesi double-bill, and (in our spare time) mount Handel’s magnificent Roman Oratorio “La Resurrezione”.

I hope that some of you will be able to see the fruits of our labors at the Festival (June 11-18) in Boston!
For more information visit bemf.org

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