We refer to Opera Atelier’s production of Charpentier’s Medea as a “period production” — but what we mean by that term requires some careful explanation.
Opera Atelier does not wish to be perceived as a “museum company” and we are in no way trying to reproduce a performance exactly as it would have happened in the past. Rather, we are taking references from the past as a take-off point or a threshold we cross in order to create something vibrant and new. Simply put, our ultimate goal is to tell the stories we have chosen in a balanced and coherent … Read more
Medea was first performed on December 4, 1693, at the Palais Royale Theatre in Paris. Louis XIV and the Dauphin attended early in the opera’s run, and some members of the royal family attended numerous times. The score was considered innovative and especially rich in its harmonies. The story is told through dancing, as well as recitatives, airs and choruses. In adherence to the original precepts of opera the dancers are fully integrated as characters in the drama. They represent Corinthians and other members of Créon’s court, and later, demons and phantoms conjured by Médée. They participate in spectacular celebrations, … Read more
The central themes in the story of Médée and Jason are deception, betrayal and revenge.
The Greek myth on which Charpentier based his opera tells us that Médée, through her efforts to help her beloved Jason obtain the Golden Fleece, betrays her family and countrymen. As a result the pair flee to Corinth but in order to further his own political and romantic interests Jason in turn betrays Médée, abandoning her to marry Créuse, daughter of Créon king of Corinth. Créon in his turn deceives Oronte, the prince of Argos by promising him the hand of Créuse while planning her … Read more
With the death of Jean-Baptiste Lully in 1687, it became possible, for the first time in many years, for other composers to have works performed at the Royal Academy of Music, the principal institution sponsoring and producing operas in 17th-century France. In the years immediately following Lully’s passing, most of the operas produced were written by members of his inner circle, including his two sons and his former secretary. None of the operas enjoyed great success, and the Academy began to suffer financial distress and lack of artistic vision.
It must have been with some trepidation that Marc-Antoine … Read more
Comments Off on Director’s Notes – Dido and Aeneas
I doubt that any opera company in recent history has spent more time exploring Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas than Opera Atelier. It was our first fully-mounted production at the Royal Ontario Museum more than thirty years ago, and we have since toured our production to major venues in England (Royal Albert Hall, BBC Proms 100th anniversary), France (Royal Opera House, Versailles), Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and throughout the US. Past Opera Atelier productions have featured some of Canada’s finest sopranos in the title role including Catherine Robbin, Jean Stillwell, Monica Whicher, and now the superb young mezzo, Wallis … Read more