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Odyssey Opera Continues 'TRIAL BY FIRE: JOAN OF ARC' Season with L'ASSEDIO DI CALAIS


Odyssey Opera Continues 'TRIAL BY FIRE: JOAN OF ARC' Season with L'ASSEDIO DI CALAIS

One of the nation's most innovative opera companies, Odyssey Opera, continues 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 two nights, Odyssey Opera presents a fully-staged Italian-language performance of Gaetano Donizetti's neglected opera, L'assedio di Calais (1836). Based on Luigi Marchionni's play L'assedio di Calais (The Siege of Calais) with libretto by Salvatore Cammarano, this rarely-heard Italian Bel Canto work has undeservedly been absent from the operatic stage. Conducted by Gil Rose with full orchestra and chorus and directed by Joshua Major, L'assedio di Calaisfeatures three singers making their company debut: baritone James Westman (Mayor of Calais), mezzo-soprano Magda Gartner (Aurelio) and Lucia Cesaroni (Eleanora).

This bleak opera had a limited career during the composer's lifetime before disappearing for 150 years. However, it has recently had a burst of popularity due to its relevance to current events. The spectre of the so-called Calais Jungle-the migrant camps that were dismantled by the French government in 2016-lingers over Odyssey's production, the work's Boston premiere. "This tale of courage, self-sacrifice, and wartime could be set in present day," explains Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera's Artistic and General Director. "Ruined concrete towers and long-besieged people all look alike. We might be in Syria, Iraq, Liberia, Libya, or Chechnya."

With its muted colors and sympathetic narrative, Donizetti's L'assedio di Calais dramatizes the struggle of the French port city, under a year-long sustained attack by Edward III during the Hundred Years' War. Cammarano's libretto has been described as "...a remarkable libretto, the closest Cammarano ever got to real poetry, particularly in his description of the embattled city and the heartfelt pride of its citizens."

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 Orle?ans 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 Orleans 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. Preceding L'assedio di Calais was Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orleans (September 16, 2017), followed by 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.


L'assedio di Calais by Gaetano Donizetti

When: Thursday, October 26 + Saturday, October 28, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Huntington Avenue Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA | T: Green to Symphony, Orange to Mass Ave

Tickets: $25 and Up. To purchase, visit or call 617.826.1626.

Eustachio de Saint-Pierre, Mayor of Calais: James Westman (baritone)
Aurelio, His Son: Magda Gartner (mezzo-soprano)*
Eleanora: Lucia Cesaroni (soprano)*
Giovanni D'Aire, Burgher: Neal Ferreira (tenor)
Giacomo de Wisants, Burgher: Alan Schneider (tenor)
Pietro de Wisants, Burgher: James Demler (baritone)
Armando, Burgher: Christopher Carbin (bass)
Eduardo III, King of England: John Allen Nelson (baritone)
Edmundo, English General: Sumner Thompson (baritone)
Conductor: Gil Rose

*Boston 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 for more.

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