Ars Minerva Presents the Modern World Premiere of a 1680 Italian Opera in San Francisco

Ars Minerva Presents the Modern World Premiere of a 1680 Italian Opera in San Francisco

Ars Minerva, a Bay Area nonprofit devoted to resurrecting forgotten operas from the Italian Baroque, is announcing its fall presentation: Domenico Freschi's ERMELINDA, running November 22 - 24 at ODC Theater in San Francisco. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. This will be the opera's first staging since its premiere in Italy in 1680. Tickets, $26 - $250, are now on sale at

Freschi was an ordained priest and the maestro di cappella at the Cathedral of Vicenza. In addition to his work as a church musician and composer, he enjoyed an active career as a composer of operas. Ermelinda was commissioned by Marco Contarini, Procurator of St. Mark's, second in command in the Republic of Venice, and it premiered at his lavish country estate. After Amazons in the Fortunate Isles, Ermelinda is the second opera revived by Ars Minerva that originated at the Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta.

The familiar story of Ermelinda, with a libretto by Francesco Maria Piccioli, takes place in ancient Phoenicia. Two star-crossed lovers, Ermelinda and Ormindo, are forbidden to marry. Ermelinda's tyrannical father abducts her far away, and a series of dramatic scenes ensues as Ormindo tries to track down his love, who demonstrates herself to be full of determination and cleverness.

"Ermelinda continues in a line of Baroque masterpieces featuring powerful women," said Ars Minerva's Executive Artistic Director Céline Ricci. "Since its inception in 2013, Ars Minerva has chosen to revive operas whose central figures are female: Cleopatra, Amazon warriors, Circe, Iphigenia and Clytemnestra, and now Ermelinda."

Ricci will direct Ermelinda, and Grammy-nominated harpsichordist Jory Vinikour will conduct Ars Minerva's period instrument orchestra including Cynthia Black and Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo, violins; Gretchen Claassen, cello; Adam Cockerham, theorbo; and Aaron Westman, viola.

The cast includes Sara Couden (contralto) in the role of Ormindo; Justin Montigne (countertenor) in the role of Aristeo; Nikola Printz (mezzo-soprano) in the role of Ermelinda; Kindra Scharich (mezzo-soprano) in the role of Rosaura; and Deborah Rosengaus (mezzo-soprano) in the role of Armidoro.

The creative team includes Thomas Bowersox (lighting designer), Nicole Spencer Carreira (projections design), Joe McClinton (translations), Matthew Nash (costume design) and Elisabeth Reeves (stage management).

Since 2013, Ars Minerva has presented modern world premieres of four long-forgotten operas: La Cleopatra, composed by Daniele da Castrovillari; The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles, by Carlo Pallavicino; La Circe, by Pietro Andrea Ziani; and Ifigenia in Aulide, by Giovanni Porta.

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Photo credit: Valentina Sadiul

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