Odyssey Opera Continues Gounod Voyage With Boston Premiere
One of the nation's most adventurous opera companies, Odyssey Opera, continues its sixth season with the Boston premiere of the rarely performed 1858 opera Le médecin malgré lui (The Doctor in Spite of Himself). On the occasion of the bicentenary of Charles Gounod's birth (1818-1893), Odyssey Opera offers a chance to become better acquainted with one of the largest French composers of the second half of the 19th Century. Based on a play by the great French satirical playwright Moliére, Gounod's Le médecin malgré lui is a three-act comic opera set to a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. Odyssey Opera will feature baritone Stephen Salters (Sganarelle), mezzo-soprano Tascha Anderson (Jacqueline), the Boston debut of tenor Piotr Buszewski (Leandre), and a full orchestra and chorus conducted by Gil Rose, with stage direction by Daniel Pelzig (Santa Fe Opera, Met Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago). The fully-staged production will be sung in French with English subtitles, with never heard recitatives added by Erik Satie.
Le médecin malgré lui (sometimes called The Mock Doctor) was first performed in Paris at the Lyrique on January 15, 1858. Its elegant orchestration and vivid characters enchanted audiences and artists alike. Stravinsky and Strauss greatly admired this work and Berlioz proclaimed it "Gounod is at his best!" In June 1923, Serge Diaghilev commissioned Erik Satie to compose recitatives to replace the spoken dialogue in order to transform it into an entirely sung opera. This incarnation premiered in Monte Carlo on January 5, 1924.
"Gounod is rightly viewed as the creator of the genre of lyric opera," explains Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera's Artistic and General Director. "He was not only the creator of 'Faust' and 'Romeo et Juliette,' he substantially influenced the course of French music, and helped restore a higher sense of artistic purpose to the French stage." Gounod is often regarded as the apostle of a lyrical, sensual and seductive Romanticism. "Gounod knows how to grasp and transcribe the human heart. He had a magical gift for melody."
Described by The New York Times as "bold...intriguing", Odyssey Opera's 2018-19 season kicked off with another work by Gounod, La reine de saba (September 22, 2018). The remainder of the season features three operas inspired by Helen of Troy: a fully staged production of Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen) by Christoph Willibald Gluck (February 15 + 17, 2019); a concert performance of Die ägyptische Helena (The Egyptian Helen) by Richard Strauss (April 19, 2019); and a season-ending, fully staged production of the hilarious La belle Hélène (The Beautiful Helen) by Jacques Offenbach (June 14 + 16, 2019).
About Odyssey Opera
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.
For more information, visit OdysseyOpera.org.