New Camerata Opera Premieres Film JULIE Tonight
Tonight, June 4th, 2020, New Camerata Opera will premiere Julie, a new opera film directed by Chloe Treat with a score by Whitney George and libretto by Wallis Drake. The film will debut on YouTube at 7pm before its upcoming entry into film festivals.
New Camerata Opera commissioned this project based on the life of Julie d'Aubigny. A swashbuckling, bisexual swordswoman and opera singer, d'Aubigny fought for a world in which those who misbehaved got what they deserved. This work is the first attempt to tell Julie's story through opera, befitting a woman who graced the stages of the Paris opera houses in the 17th century. The film tells her incredible story, which emphasizes the importance of courage in the face of adversity and the pursuit of equality for all. Director Chloe Treat says, "Julie is the story of a human who was able to imagine a life for herself that existed outside of the possibilities society told her were possible. She defied gender, sexual and occupational norms to create a life that suited her uniquely. Julie reminds us to imagine more for ourselves, which is why I find her story so compelling."
The libretto focuses on a snapshot of the varied and colorful career of Julie d'Aubigny. Librettist Wallis Drake states "her entire life, which was relatively short (she died at 33) was so dense with micro-stories...so how do you craft this incredibly complex life into a reflection without diminishing her, really?" At a society ball in 1695, d'Aubigny arrived dressed in men's clothes and caused an uproar when she openly kissed a young woman. She was immediately challenged to duels by different noblemen, and she swiftly defeated each of them.
The score, written for chamber ensemble, is a careful synthesis of both film score and opera. Whitney George says, "This is an interesting blending of the two mediums and therefore requires a different scope of writing. We are dealing with a lot of public versus private imagery, both musically and on stage." She composed the work for an intimate ensemble of six instruments.
Director Chloe Treat discusses the unique challenges of Julie. "Combining opera and film is incredibly exciting and challenging because of the way scale is clashing. I know this isn't the rule...but at large, our modern eye is accustomed to naturalism and very intimate, nuanced performances on film. And opera is bigger than that. I dare you to sing opera naturalistically. You can't. Just the task of producing those sounds asks your body and face to exist in a heightened and unnatural state. So what that means for me immediately is that this isn't going to be "realistic." And thank god for that. We get to be theatrical and abstract in this space. That was such a fun place to get to start from."
In November 2019, the cast of eleven singers joined forces with The Curiosity Cabinet, a chamber ensemble under the baton of the composer, at The Ice Plant Studio in Long Island City to record the audio for Julie. Over the course of 6 days in January 2020, director Chloe Treat worked with the CamerataWorks crew to film this epic story. The shooting location, procured with the help of ChaShaMa, was donated industrial space on Roosevelt Island. Costumes designed by Angela Huff reflect the period and stand in stark contrast to the industrial setting. Chloe Treat describes the stylized look of Julie, "Julie was a performer. Literally, in that she was an opera singer, but equally in that she was acutely aware of the performance of self. Because of this our film utilizes a "behind the scenes" aesthetic; visible theatrical lights, dressing tables etc. to help illustrate Julie's mastery of performance and theatricality in her life and onstage."
The film will be released to the public on June 4th via YouTube and will reside on the company webpage and YouTube channel. It will be entered in film festivals in fall and winter of 2020-21.
Julie boasts a diverse and talented cast of singers:
Danielle Buonaiuto, Julie
MaKayla McDonald, Marie
Stan Lacy, Henri, De la Tour d'Auvergne
Victor Khodadad, La Rochefoucauld
Erik Bagger, Duke de La Ferté-Senneterre
Jay Lucas Chacon, Duc de Durfot
Brian J. Alvarado, Prince of Commercy, Secretary Grand Ecuyer
Samina Aslam, Courtier 1
Nicole Leone, Courtier 2
Heather Jones, Courtier 3
Cara Search, Courtier 4
The Curiosity Cabinet
Lindsey Eckenroth, flute Mara Mayer, clarinet
Adam von Housen, violin Maureen Kelly, 'cello
Joe Tucker, percussion Edward Forstman, piano