Odyssey Opera Continues Joan of Arc season with Trial at Rouen 12/1
At the vanguard of Boston's classical music scene, Odyssey Opera and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) present the world premiere of the live performance of The Trial at Rouen by Norman Dello Joio. A semi-staged, English-language production led by conductor Gil Rose, The Trial at Rouen unites Odyssey Opera (one of the nation's most innovative opera companies), BMOP (the nation's premier orchestra dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music), and internationally renowned singers Heather Buck (Joan of Arc) and Stephen Powell (Pierre Cauchon). This marks the third and most condensed opera of Odyssey Opera's 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). Preceding the opera will be a concert performance of its inspiration, Dello Joio's symphony The Triumph of Saint Joan.
What: The Trial at Rouen by Norman Dello Joio
When: Friday, December 1, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
In 1950, the Boston-based Emmy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Norman Dello Joio (1913-2008) premiered his first opera The Triumph of Saint Joan (1951). Unhappy with the results he withdrew the work. Still fascinated with the subject he was commissioned by the NBC Television Opera Theatre to produce an original 75-minute opera for television. The resulting work in two acts, The Trial at Rouen (1955), premiered on April 8, 1956, on NBC. This Odyssey Opera-BMOP production marks the first time The Trial at Rouen will be performed off screen and on stage in front of a live audience.
"Rarely, if ever, do we have the opportunity to set an opera from screen to stage," explains Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera's Artistic Director and Conductor of both Odyssey Opera and BMOP. "It is such an honor and thrill to be making operatic history!"
The concert will open with Dello Joio's most popular work The Triumph of Saint Joan, which was derived from his first Joan of Arc-inspired opera. A purely orchestral work, the symphony also provided the score for the ballet Seraphic Dialogues, the first of three written for Martha Graham. An instant success, the symphony was recorded on an early LP by the Louisville Orchestra. The Trial of Rouen opera (one of three operas written by Dello Joio) focuses on the period of the imprisonment and trial of Joan of Arc. Requiring versatility, stamina, and acting prowess, the role of Joan will be played by soprano Heather Buck. An exemplary interpreter of contemporary and modern repertoire, she is best described by opera critic David Shengold as "a lithe and impactful actress with an uncommonly beautiful soprano for the high-lying and testing repertory she serves." Buck last performed with Odyssey Opera in 2014 as the soloist in Miss Havisham's Wedding Night. According to the Boston Classical Review, she "delivered a convincing and hair-raising performance. Her voice was gleaming from top to bottom...Buck met every demand fearlessly." She received a bachelor's degree in music from Tufts University and one in fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She is joined by baritone Stephen Powell in the role of Bishop Pierre Cauchon. Described by The Wall Street Journal as a singer who possesses a "rich, lyric baritone, commanding presence, and thoughtful musicianship", he is making his Odyssey Opera debut.
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 17-year old peasant girl to liberate the city of Orléans 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 Orléans 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 The Trial at Rouen were Tchaikovsky's The Maid of Orléans (September 16, 2017) and Donizetti's L'assedio di Calais (October 26 + 28, 2017), to be followed by Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher (February 27, 2018) by Arthur Honegger, and Giovanna d'Arco (April 5 + 7, 2018) by Giuseppe Verdi.
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. odysseyopera.org
About BMOP: The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is widely recognized as the leading orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to performing new music, and its signature record label, BMOP/sound, is the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and solely devoted to new music recordings. Founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Gil Rose, BMOP affirms its mission to illuminate the connections that exist naturally between contemporary music and contemporary society by reuniting composers and audiences in a shared concert experience. In its first 18 seasons, BMOP established a track record that includes more than 100 performances, over 100 world premieres (including 40 commissioned works), two Opera Unlimited festivals with Opera Boston, the inaugural Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music with the ICA/Boston, and 61 commercial recordings, including 40 CDs from BMOP/sound. BMOP.org