Kate Aldrich to Play 'Joan of Arc' in Odyssey Opera's THE MAID OF ORLEANS

Kate Aldrich to Play 'Joan of Arc' in Odyssey Opera's THE MAID OF ORLEANS

One of the nation's most innovative opera companies, Odyssey Opera, kicks off Trial by Fire: Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years' War, a season-long exploration of operatic works inspired by martyr, saint, and military leader Joan of Arc (1412-1431).

For one night only, Odyssey Opera presents a Russian-language concert performance of Tchaikovsky's sixth opera, The Maid of Orleans (1878). Based on Friedrich Schiller's German play of the same name, this four-act, three-hour opera delves into the mysterious medieval world Joan of Arc inhabited.

Conducted by Gil Rose and full orchestra and chorus, The Maid of Orleans is led by Maine native Kate Aldrich in the wide-ranging title role of Joan. Fellow singers making their company debut include Kevin Thompson (Thibault d'Arc), Kevin Ray (King Charles VII), Aleksey Bogdanov (Lionel), and Mikhail Svetlov (Archbishop/Cardinal).

Tchaikovsky wrote his own libretto for The Maid of Orleans, which premiered at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg in 1881. The composer had high hopes for the score, predicting it would be "the one that will make my name popular." The opera's opening night was a major success, but then it ran into bad luck. Just weeks after the premiere, Russia's Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, prompting the cancellation of the entire opera season and Tchaikovsky's opera was undeservedly forgotten. In addition to bad luck, this opera is seldom-heard today because of the extraordinarily demanding title role. Joan requires a singer with the range and timbre of both a soprano and mezzo-soprano. "The Maid of Orle?ans is a laudable rarity. It never achieved a firm place in the international opera repertory," explains Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera's Artistic and General Director. "Considering the rarity of this work, admirers of Tchaikovsky or Russian opera need not hesitate to join us for this Boston premiere!"

Produced in the Romantic operatic tradition, The Maid of Orleans emulates French grand opera, mixing grandiose pageantry with melodramatic passages against a pseudo-historic background - the intervention of Joan of Arc in the Anglo-French war in the early 15th Century. Joan is cast as the soprano ingénue falling for a British soldier who switches alliances to the French army. Tchaikovsky remains true to Joan's fiery martyrdom, and her legendary encounter with love-besotted Dauphin Charles VII, and creates a lush musical portrait of an intrepid girl leading the French army. Joan of Arc's presence both as a warrior and spiritual visionary sparked the beginnings of France's rise as a great European power. Divine voices guided the 18-year old peasant girl to liberate the city of Orleans in 1429 and subsequently turn the tide for the French in the closing years of the Hundred Years' War. Burned as a heretic in 1431, the Maid of Orle?ans was portrayed by her enemies as a witch, and a madwoman. She was later pardoned and eventually recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. Today, she is a national hero of the French.

Representing a wide range of styles, Odyssey Opera presents five operas during the 2017-18 season inspired by Joan of Arc. Following The Maid of Orleans are L'assedio di Calais (October 26 + 28, 2017) by Gaetano Donizetti, The Trial at Rouen (December 1, 2017) by Norman Dello Joio, Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher (February 27, 2018) by Arthur Honegger, and Giovanna d'Arco (April 5 + 7, 2018) by Giuseppe Verdi.

Tchaikovsky: The Maid of Orleans

Joan of Arc: Kate Aldrich (mezzo-soprano)*
Thibault d'Arc: Kevin Thompson (bass)*
King Charles VII: Kevin Ray (tenor)*
Lionel: Aleksey Bogdanov (baritone)*
Raymond: Yeghishe Manucharyan (tenor)
Dunois: David Kravitz (baritone)
Archbishop/Cardinal: Mikhail Svetlov (bass)*
Agnes Sorel: Erica Petrocelli (soprano)
Conductor: Gil Rose

*Odyssey Opera debut

Founded in 2013 by artistic director/conductor Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera presents adventurous and eclectic works that affirm opera as a powerful expression of the human experience. Its world-class artists perform the operatic repertoire from its historic beginnings through lesser-known masterpieces to contemporary new works and commissions in varied formats and venues. Odyssey Opera sets standards of high musical and theatrical excellence and innovative programming to advance the operatic genre beyond the familiar and into undiscovered territory. Odyssey Opera takes its audience on a journey to places they've never been before. Visit odysseyopera.org for more.

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