Boston Early Music Festival Set for Victoria, 3/14-15
The Early Music Society of the Islands and Pacific Opera Victoria present, for the first time in Victoria, the Boston Early Music Festival, in a stunning operatic double bill. La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs, composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, will be presented March 14 and 15, 2014, at 8pm at Victoria's McPherson Playhouse.
Staged by one of the world's leading baroque ensembles, the operas are a brilliant fusion of music, drama and dance. Paul O'Dette and Stephen Stubbs, reigning authorities on early music, lead the internationally acclaimed singers, instrumentalists and dancers of the Boston Early Music Festival.
La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs, dating from 1685 and 1686, are presented as a play within a play - a musical contest framing the story of Orpheus and Euridice.
La Couronne de Fleurs, based on a text by Moliere, depicts a musical contest in tribute to Louis XIV, in which shepherds vie for a crown of flowers from the goddess Flora for the most beautiful and eloquent aria in praise of the Sun King. The short opera La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers is presented as an entry in the poetic contest, telling the famous story of Orphée, who descends into the underworld to use his musical powers to rescue his beloved Euridice.
"These miniature masterpieces showcase one of the great composers of the French Baroque", explains Timothy Vernon, Artistic Director of Pacific Opera Victoria. "A couple of generations before Bach and Handel, Charpentier was in the vanguard of opera development in France." Charpentier was profoundly sensitive to text and to drama and his music is arrestingly personal. His gift for creating appealing melodies; for creating contrast of mood and color; for employing the instrumental resources available to him with infinite imagination and care; for balancing the elements of musical storytelling - singing, playing, dancing - all combine to make him one of the most attractive and accessible of French Baroque composers.
Artistic Director of the Early Music Society of the Islands, James Young, explains that the double bill is one of the most ambitious productions in EMSI's almost thirty-year history. "For the first time, Victoria audiences will have the opportunity to experience a semi-staged baroque opera, performed in a period style by one of the world's leading baroque music ensembles. The Boston Early Music Festival is passionate about the historical context of this music and the performance practice. "