Boston Baroque announces the 2012-2013 Season
Gala New Year's concerts
A Baroque Banquet
Boston Baroque announces a Stellar 2011-2012 Season
Gluck's revolutionary opera Orfeo ed Euridice
Gala New Year's concerts
Mozart Symphonies and the Double Piano Concerto
Special chamber concert
Boston Baroque’s acclaimed production of the rarely performed Rameau opera
The program will also be streamed live at 995allclassical.org
Ambitious production is American period-instrument premiere
Rameau’s masterpiece of music and dance,
All-star cast – Sam Helfrich directs, Marjorie Folkman choreographs
Three-time Grammy nominee Boston Baroque concludes its 2010-2011 season with two semi-staged performances of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s brilliant opera-ballet Les Indes Galantes* on Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7, at 7:30 pm in New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. This ambitious production, sung in French with English supertitles, continues Music Director Martin Pearlman’s exploration of the evocative music of the French Baroque. Tickets are $29 to $73, available at (617) 987-8600 ext.1 and online at www.bostonbaroque.org.
Overview: The uniquely French opera-ballet genre, which flourished in the early 1700s, reached its zenith in Les Indes Galantes (1735), with its lyrical music-making, spectacular tableaux, and infectious, toe-tapping dance. The prologue sets things in motion: Hébé, goddess of youth, laments seeing the young men of Europe lured by the goddess of war’s promises of glory, and asks Cupid to go abroad, to exotic, faraway lands (“les Indes”), in search of love. There follow four acts, each a self-contained love story: Le Turc généreux (The Generous Turk), Les Incas du Pérou (The Incas of Peru), Les Fleurs – fête Persane (The Flowers – Persian Festival), and Les Sauvages d’Amerique (The Savages of America). The libretto and music reflect Parisian society’s fascination with the New World and the Near East. For example, two Native Americans from French colonial Louisiana were brought to Paris in 1725 and performed, inspiring Rameau to write a set of harpsichord pieces called Les Sauvages, some of which he adapted here.
The directing team: Music Director Martin Pearlman founded Boston Baroque and has led it in more than 35 opera productions, from Monteverdi to Mozart, including Rameau’s Zoroastre (1983) and Pigmalion (2009). He has also guest conducted at Washington Opera, Opera Columbus, Utah Opera, and other companies. Stage Director Sam Helfrich previously directed Boston Baroque’s Don Giovanni (2006), Agrippina (2005, “the finest local operatic event in several seasons,” according to the Boston Globe), and Semele (2008), a fully staged co-production with Opera Boston. He has also directed at Glimmerglass, Pittsburgh Opera, Julliard, Yale, and other opera and theater companies around the U.S. Choreographer/dancer Marjorie Folkman was a principal with the Mark Morris Dance Group and is a teacher/guest artist at the Lincoln Center Institute, Bard, Phillips Andover, Smith and Mt. Holyoke College, and others. She previously choreographed and performed in our Rameau Pigmalion, and will perform with four other professional dancers in Les Indes Galantes.
The soloists: Boston Baroque has assembled an international all-star cast of six soloists, each of whom will appear in as many as four different roles in the production.
Soprano Amanda Forsythe began her career in the Boston Baroque chorus and has gone on to leading roles at Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper, the Rossini Festival, Théâtre des Champs Élysées, and other companies in Europe and the U.S. Her appearances in Boston Baroque’s Messiah (2010) and Xerxes (2008) won rave reviews.
Making her Boston Baroque debut, soprano Nathalie Paulin hails from Toronto and has appeared throughout North America and Europe in leading roles ranging from Handel and Mozart to Debussy and Janacek. She has previously sung in Boston with the Handel and Haydn Society.
Tenor Aaron Sheehan sang with Boston Baroque in Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 last year in Boston and on tour in New York. More recently – four weeks ago – he awed our Jordan Hall audiences as the “dashing” Narrator in Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, a role he took on two days’ notice and sang magnificently.
Canadian tenor Daniel Auchincloss is based in London and sings widely on both sides of the Atlantic. He possess the rare high tenor voice known as “haute-contre,” which was especially favored by French Baroque composers, but his remarkably diverse repertoire stretches from medieval to contemporary.
No stranger to Boston, baritone Sumner Thompson began in the Boston Baroque chorus and since then has soloed in several of our productions, most recently the Monteverdi Vespers last year. He also sings with Blue Heron, Boston Early Music Festival, and Emmanuel Music, as well as leading baroque ensembles across North America.
Boston-born baritone Nathaniel Watson, on the other hand, lives in Montreal and has not appeared in Boston since the 1999 Boston Early Music Festival, when he played the title role in Cavalli’s Ercole Amante. He has appeared in more than 35 operatic roles across the U.S. and Canada, and on more than 15 CDs. Welcome back, Nathaniel!
The story lines: Les Indes Galantes is in effect four loosely connected one-act operas. The Turkish act is a dramatic love triangle: Though envious of their love, the Turkish pasha generously gives his two French prisoners their freedom. The Peruvian act is a tragic love triangle: The Incan High Priest loves an Incan Princess, but she loves a Spanish conquistador. In his jealousy the High Priest causes a volcano to erupt, and dies beneath the rocks and lava. The Persian act is a diverting precursor to Cosi fan tutte, with two couples and mistaken identities, all resolved in a drop-dead gorgeous quartet, “Tendre amour, que pour nous ta chaîne” (Tender love, may you bind us forever). The American act is a romantic comedy: French and Spanish colonists, satirically portrayed (the Frenchman too fickle, the Spaniard too ardent) vie for the love of an Indian princess, who ultimately spurns them both for a noble Indian brave, leading all to celebrate love in a Great Peace Pipe Ceremony.
The genius. Rameau establishes the different situations and characters in each act with grace and efficiency, using daring harmonies and remarkable orchestral color. The French language has never sounded better! What might have been “fluff” proves powerful and durable, and the characters compelling – the generous Turk, the lovesick Persians, the fickle Frenchman. The conclusion of the Peru act, with volcanic tremors to match the growing frenzy of the High Priest, is stunningly dramatic (and explosive!). Above all, Rameau wrote wonderfully rhythmic, tuneful dance music for each act that will have the audience tapping their toes and swaying to the beat!
The roles. The cast is listed below. In addition to six soloists and five dancers, Les Indes Galantes features 19 singers from Boston Baroque’s professional chorus and 26 players, including continuo section, from our period-instrument orchestra, led by Concertmaster Christina Day Martinson.
Three-Time Grammy Nominee Boston Baroque performs Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610
In New York City’s
BOSTON BAROQUE music director Martin Pearlman has announced that he will conduct the ensemble in his Grammy-nominated interpretation of Monteverdi’s masterpiece, the Vespers of 1610, in one New York performance only, on Saturday, March 6, 2010. The performance takes place in another masterpiece—the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, home of New York’s Episcopal Diocese and the largest cathedral in the world. With its extraordinary beauty and scale, the Cathedral will provide a dramatic setting for the Vespers, which, in its own time, brilliantly exploited the spatial and acoustical possibilities of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Marking both the 400th anniversary of the Vespers’ publication and Boston Baroque’s first performance in New York since the 1980s, this promises to be a major event in the city’s 2009-2010 early music and classical music calendar. Ticket information will be available at www.bostonbaroque.org in October.
The performance will be presented as part of the BOSTON UNIVERSITY INCITE ARTS FESTIVAL, a New York showcase for the BU College of Fine Arts and its Schools of Music, Theatre, and Visual Art. Boston Baroque is the resident professional ensemble for Boston University’s Historical Performance Program, where it is helping to train the next generation of period-instrument performers.
Martin Pearlman writes:
“The Vespers is a work of extraordinary emotional power, astonishing for the grandeur of its conception and the opulence of its sound. No other surviving work from that period is written on such a scale, combining the grandest of public music with the most intimate of solo songs. Like the music itself, the performing forces are on a grand scale: seven solo singers; a chorus large enough to divide into anywhere from four to ten voice parts; and an orchestra with a rich variety of instrumental colors, including virtuosic solo parts for violins and cornetti.”
More about Boston Baroque
Founded by Martin Pearlman in 1973, Boston Baroque was the first Baroque orchestra established in North America and is now widely regarded as “one of the world’s premier period-instrument bands” (Fanfare). Boston Baroque reaches an international audience with its now-19 recordings on the Telarc label, three of which received Grammy nominations. The ensemble produces a subscription concert series in Greater Boston, now in its 36th season, and made its European debut in 2003, performing Handel’s Messiah to sold-out houses and standing ovations in Krakow and Warsaw, Poland. In 2004, Boston Baroque was acclaimed for its performances of the Monteverdi Vespers in three major American music centers: Los Angeles’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, Ravinia; and Tanglewood. In 2009, the ensemble made its debut with two programs at the international Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico—the first period-instrument orchestra invited to perform there. Of Boston Baroque’s recent recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Gramophone wrote “Under Pearlman, Boston Baroque’s playing combines supreme technical precision with unexpected psychological depth…[t]his new version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons may well represent the best of al possible worlds.” Boston Baroque’s 20th recording on Telarc, featuring male soprano Michael Maniaci in music by Mozart for the castrato voice, will be released in January 2010.
Boston Baroque Makes Successful Debut at the
BOSTON BAROQUE made its debut at the international Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with two concerts on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14, 2009. BB’s engagement was at the invitation of Casals artistic director Justino Diaz, a veteran of Europe and America’s leading opera houses and principal singer at the Metropolitan Opera for 40 years who became familiar with Boston Baroque through its recordings.
The March 13 evening program focused on music of Bach and Handel and featured Bach’s Sinfonia from Cantata BWV 42, Bach’s Concerto for violin and orchestra in E Major with soloist Christina Day Martinson, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Handel’s Gloria for soprano and orchestra with soprano soloist Mary Wilson, and Bach’s ebullient Third Orchestral Suite.
The March 14 evening program featured two major choral works: Vivaldi’s Gloria in D; and J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in D. Soloists for this concert were Mary Wilson, soprano; Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano; Mary Phillips, alto; Kerem Kurk, tenor; and David Kravitz, baritone.
Artistic Director Diaz called the performances a “revelation” and linked Boston Baroque with Pablo Casals’ vision. Diaz wrote:
“Boston Baroque is featuring the repertoire that Casals considered the culmination of European music. Its abundant forces—orchestra, chorus and soloists under Martin Pearlman—brings us close to such stellar composers as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi and so many other masters whose art defies the passage of time, never allowing us to forget the golden brilliance and all-enveloping sound of that musical universe.”
The reviewer for the San Juan newspaper El Nuevo Día wrote:
“Violinist Christina Day Martinson’s … interpretation fully showed the baroque spirit, and the second movement was notable for a very expressive cantabile ... Soprano Mary Wilson captivated the audience with her vocal agility in the fast movements and her expressive phrasing in the slow ones … Pearlman’s interpretation [of Bach’s 3rd orchestral suite] emphasized the exuberance and majesty of the initial French overture … and avoided sentimentality in the famous Air. The three remaining French dances … were examples of dynamism and vitality. At the audience’s implicit request, the group offered as encore the last Allegro of the Concerto Grosso in G Major of Handel, demonstrating once more the authentic sound of the baroque.”