Odyssey Opera Ends Season With LA BELLE HELENE
One of the nation's most adventurous opera companies, Odyssey Opera, presents the fully staged production of La belle Hélène (The Beautiful Helen) by Jacques Offenbach with libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. This final performance of Odyssey Opera's sixth season is the last of three works performed in 2019 inspired by one of the most enigmatic figures in ancient history, Helen of Troy. Directed by Frank Kelley, this performance will be sung in English with mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson (Met Opera, San Francisco Opera) playing the lead role of Helen of Troy, and orchestra and chorus conducted by Gil Rose.
Following its 2017 production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience praised by The Boston Globe as, "a tour-de-force," Odyssey Opera continues its exploration of uproarious works from the 19th Century. "Offenbach was a monumental figure in his lifetime-not only a prolific composer, but also an accomplished cellist and charming impresario whom Rossini called the 'the Mozart of the Champs-Elysees.' Boston audiences are in for a real treat with La belle Hélène, which has a score as witty and dazzling as its libretto," says Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera's Artistic and General Director.
The second of Offenbach's satires on the well-known legend of Helen of Troy, the three act La belle Hélène is a sidesplitting parody of the Greek myth of Helen's elopement with Paris played by Canadian tenor Adam Fisher. The dashing Prince of Troy wins Helen's love with the assistance of a cunning oracle played by bass-baritone Ben Wager (Dallas Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Opera Berlin) outwitting her husband, the King of Sparta, played by tenor Alan Schneider (Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera). With sparkling orchestral panache, some of Offenbach's best-loved melodies, and an assortment of Greek heroes, this opera was an instant success receiving over 700 performances when it premiered in 1864. "Described by the Penguin Opera Guide as 'deliciously immortal,' this opera is a perfectly constructed, fun-filled farce (Music-Web International)."
Described by The New York Times as "bold...intriguing", Odyssey Opera's 2018-19 season is a two-part journey. The first memorialized the 200th anniversary of Charles Gounod's birth (as well as the 125th death anniversary) with La reine de saba (September 22, 2018) and Le médecin malgré lui (November 9 + 11, 2018). The second in Winter/Spring 2019 is inspired by the iconic figure, 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 La belle Hélène (The Beautiful Helen) by Jacques Offenbach (June 14 + 16, 2019).