Paul O’Dette (BEMF Co-Artistic Director, lute, theorbo, and Baroque guitar) has been called “the clearest case of genius ever to touch his instrument”, Toronto Globe and Mail. One of the most influential figures in his field, O'Dette has helped define the technical and stylistic standards to which twenty-first-century performers of early music aspire. In doing so, he helped infuse the performance practice movement with a perfect combination of historical awareness, idiomatic accuracy, and ambitious self-expression. His performances at the major international festivals in Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Berkeley, London, Bath, Paris, Montpellier, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Bruges, Antwerp, Berlin, Munich, Bremen, Dresden, Vienna, Innsbruck, Prague, Milan, Florence, Geneva, Madrid, Barcelona, Tenerife, Copenhagen, Oslo, Cordoba, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Tokyo, etc. have often been singled out as the highlight of those events. Though best known for his recitals and recordings of virtuoso solo lute music, Paul O'Dette maintains an active international career as an ensemble musician as well, performing with many of the leading early music soloists and ensembles. He is a member of the acclaimed continuo ensemble Tragicomedia.
Paul O'Dette has made more than 120 recordings, earning 5 Grammy nominations and numerous other awards. “The Complete Lute Music of John Dowland” (a 5-CD set for harmonia mundi usa), was awarded the prestigious Diapason D'or de l'année, while “The Royal Lewters” has received the Diapason D’or, a Choc du Monde de la Musique, a 5-star rating in BBC Music Magazine, 5-star rating in Goldberg and a perfect score of 10 from ClassicsToday.com. “The Bachelar’s Delight: Lute Music of Daniel Bacheler” was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 as “Best Solo Instrumental Recording.” Mr. O'Dette has performed in broadcasts for the ABC (Australia), Radio Argentina, BBC (UK), CBC (Canada), Radio France, RAI (Italy), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Cologne), Bayerischer Rundfunk (Munich), SFB (Berlin), NOS (Holland), Austrian Radio, Spanish Radio and Television, TV Ankara, Hungarian Television, Norwegian Radio, Danish Radio and Television, Swedish Television, Swiss Radio and Television, National Public Radio (USA) and CBS Television (USA).
Recently, Mr. O'Dette has been active conducting Baroque operas. In 1997 he led performances of Luigi Rossi's L'Orfeo at Tanglewood, the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) and the Drottningholm Court Theatre in Sweden with Stephen Stubbs. Since 1999 they have co-directed performances of Cavalli's Ercole Amante at the Boston Early Music Festival, Tanglewood, and the Utrecht Early Music Festival, Provenzale's La Stellidaura Vendicata at the Vadstena Academy in Sweden, Monteverdi's Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Poppea for Festival Vancouver, Lully's Thésée and Psyché, Conradi’s Ariadne (Hamburg, 1691) and Mattheson’s Boris Goudenow for the Boston Early Music Festival. The recording of Ariadne was nominated for a Grammy as “Best Opera Recording of 2005,” while Thésée was nominated in the same category in 2007 and Psyché was nominated in 2008. Paul O'Dette has guest directed numerous Baroque orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic including the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik, Apollo’s Fire, Ensemble Arion, Chatham Baroque and Corona Artis.
In addition to his activities as a performer, Paul O'Dette is an avid researcher, having worked extensively on the performance and sources of seventeenth-century Italian and English solo song, continuo practices and lute technique, the latter resulting in a forthcoming book co-authored by Patrick O'Brien. He has published numerous articles on issues of historical performance practice and co-authored the Dowland entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Paul O'Dette is Professor of Lute and Director of Early Music at the Eastman School of Music.
After a thirty year career in Europe, BEMF Co- Artistic Director and lutenist Stephen Stubbs recently returned to his native Seattle to establish Pacific Musicworks to introduce a wide range of musical productions to Seattle audiences with innovative multi-media collaborations.
With his direction of Stefano Landi's La Morte d'Orfeo at the 1987 Bruges festival, he began his career as opera director and simultaneously founded the ensemble Tragicomedia, which has since recorded numerous CDs and completed tours of Europe, North America and Japan. Stubbs has been invited to direct opera productions in Europe, the US, Canada and Scandinavia. Since 1997 he has co-directed the bi-annual Boston Early Music Festival opera. The Festival’s recording of Conradi’s Ariadne was nominated for a Grammy award in 2005, their recording of Lully’s Thesee was nominated in 2007 and their Psyché, also by Lully, was nominated in 2009.
Stephen Stubbs created the ensemble Teatro Lirico, who made their recording debut in 1996 with the CD Love and Death in Venice. A live recording of Antonio Sartorio's Orfeo of 1672 for Vanguard Classics was awarded the Cini Prize for best opera recording of 1999. Teatro Lirico now records for ECM records. Their debut CD on this label was a New York Times “pick of the year” for 2006.
Stubbs’ solo lute recordings include the music of J.S. Bach, S.L. Weiss, David Kellner and the Belgian lutenist Jaques St. Luc. With baroque harpist Maxine Eilander he has recorded Sonate al Pizzico, released on ATMA in 2004. Since the inception of the Dowland Project on ECM he has played on all the group’s recordings.
To cultivate the singers and players of the next generation he founded an early opera course called the Accademia d’Amore in 1997. Beyond this annual August workshop now located in Seattle, there is a series of weekend workshops during the year under the auspices of the Seattle Academy of Baroque Opera.
Gilbert Blin studied Theater History and Stage Direction at the Sorbonne in Paris. Upon graduating in 1986, he concentrated on Rameau’s operas and their relation to the stage, an interest that has since broadened to encompass French opera and its relationship to Baroque theater, his fields of expertise as historian, stage director, and designer.
For his début in 1991, Gilbert Blin directed Massenet’s Werther for the Opéra de Nancy. For Opéra-Comique in Paris, Gilbert Blin presented a new version of Werther in 1994 with Laurent Petitgirard conducting, and in 1995 directed Delibes’s Lakmé for the same house, a production frequently revived in France until 2000. In 1996, he was dramaturge for Bizet’s Carmen, directed by David Radok, at the Royal Opera of Copenhagen. In 1999, Gilbert Blin was the first French stage director invited by the Prague State Opera: his successful production of Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable, conducted by Vincent Monteil, has been performed for many seasons.
Gilbert Blin has worked extensively with the operas of Gluck. He was French adviser for Arnold Östman’s productions of Iphigénie en Tauride (Drottningholm, 1990) and Alceste (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 1993). As stage director for the Drottningholm Theatre, Gilbert Blin presented Orfeo ed Euridice in 1992. This production, conducted by Arnold Östman, was the first modern release of the 1769 “Parma Version,” and was filmed and recorded. It was revived in 1998, as part of the Gluck Festival presented for Stockholm’s year as the EU’s “European City of Culture.” Gilbert Blin founded, in 1999, the Académie Desprez, Association Française pour le Rayonnement du Théâtre du Château de Drottningholm.
His realizations include a newly designed and directed 2001 production of Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso for the State Opera of Prague, and a 2003 staged reconstruction of Vivaldi’s Rosmira fedele for the Opéra de Nice. Returning to the latter house in 2007, Gilbert Blin designed the staging, sets, costumes, and lights of his universally acclaimed production of Handel’s Teseo. For the Ensemble Baroque de Nice, he directed a staged version of Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio La Giuditta, conducted by Gilbert Bezzina; this reconstruction of a 17th-century Roman performance successfully toured France in 2009. Recently, Gilbert Blin directed and designed a production of Scarlatti’s Il Tigrane for Opéra de Nice.
Since 2006, Gilbert Blin has been working on a project to reconstruct the original sets and costumes of Mozart operas. With Czech stage director Lubor Cukr, he presented Don Giovanni at the Prague Estates Theatre in 2006 and 2007, and Le nozze di Figaro at Opéra de Nice in 2008.
Gilbert Blin made his American début with the Boston Early Music Festival in 2001 by directing a fully staged production of Lully’s Thésée. Returning to BEMF in 2007, he directed Lully’s Psyché with musical directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. He became Boston Early Music Festival’s Stage Director in Residence in 2008, and directed Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea in 2009, which was presented at the Boston Center for the Arts and at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. He directed and designed the sets for Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe, the 2011 Festival opera, and subsequently did both for Handel’s Almira, which was produced for the 2013 Festival.
For the BEMF Chamber Opera Series inaugural production at Jordan Hall in Boston, Gilbert Blin staged Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Charpentier’s Actéon. His production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was created in 2010. In the same series, Handel’s Acis and Galatea was first presented in Boston in 2009, and toured the U.S. and Canada in 2011. Recently, Gilbert Blin returned to the French repertoire and created a production pairing Charpentier’s La Couronne de Fleurs and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. This production, described by the press as “beautifully staged,” “delightful,” and “extraordinarily moving,” was revived for the 2013 Boston Early Music Festival, and will tour North America in March 2014.
Following his acclaimed staging of Poppea in 2009, Mr. Blin staged Monteverdi’s Orfeo for the BEMF Chamber Opera Series in 2012, and is currently preparing Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria for the 2015 Festival. In October 2013, Gilbert Blin was appointed Opera Director of the Boston Early Music Festival.
Robert Mealy is one of America’s most prominent baroque violinists. The New York Times recently commented in a review of the BEMF Orchestra that “Mr. Mealy seems to foster excellence wherever he goes, whether he’s at Trinity Wall Street in New York, as concertmaster of the Trinity Baroque Orchestra; at Yale, as director of the Yale Baroque Ensemble; or at the Juilliard School, as director of the historical performance program.” He was recently appointed Orchestral Director for the Boston Early Music Festival, where he has led the orchestra in festival productions and Grammy-nominated recordings for nearly a decade.
Mr. Mealy began exploring early music in high school, first with the Collegium of UC Berkeley and then at the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied harpsichord and baroque violin. While still an undergraduate at Harvard College, he was asked to join the distinguished Canadian baroque orchestra Tafelmusik. Since then, he has recorded over 80 cds of early music on most major labels, ranging from Hildegard of Bingen with Sequentia, to Renaissance consorts with the Boston Camerata, to Rameau operas with Les Arts Florissants. He has led Baroque ensembles for the Mark Morris Dance Company, including a tour to Moscow, and accompanied Renée Fleming on the David Letterman Show. A devoted chamber musician, he co-directs Quicksilver, whose début recording was hailed as “breakthrough CD of the year” by the Huffington Post.
A keen scholar as well as a performer, Mr. Mealy is Director of the distinguished Historical Performance Program at The Juilliard School and professor of early music at the Yale School of Music. He taught at Harvard for over a decade, where he founded the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra. In 2004, he received Early Music America’s Binkley Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship.