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 was born in 1960 in France. He studied Theater History and Stage Direction at the Sorbonne in Paris. Upon graduating in 1986, Gilbert Blin 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 and stage director.
During his apprenticeship, Gilbert Blin collaborated with some of the world’s greatest directors: Robert Altman, Pier Luigi Pizzi, Vittorio Rossi, Helmut Polixa, and Nicolas Joël, among others. These engagements, as actor or stage assistant, took him from Paris to Stockholm, Lausanne, Copenhagen, Montréal, and Sydney. In 1987, Gilbert Blin was assistant stage director in residence at the Opéra de Paris, and under the artistic direction of Jean-Louis Martinoty and Thierry Fouquet, he worked at Opéra-Comique in Paris. From 1987, with Don Giovanni, to 1991, with Idomeneo, Gilbert Blin explored opera through the vision of artists like Göran Järvefelt, Volker Schlöndorff, and Sir Charles Mackerras. He also had the opportunity to work with sculptors and painters like Arman, Bernar Venet, and Jennifer Bartlett on experimental sets and costumes.
Gilbert Blin has taught theater and cultural history in many prestigious national French schools. At the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, he was also in charge of the campus theater from 1981 to 1991, where he directed and designed plays of Shakespeare, Corneille, Molière, and Marivaux, as well as operas such as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Charpentier’s Actéon and La Pastorale de Noël.
For his début in 1991, Gilbert Blin directed Massenet’s Werther for the Opéra de Nancy; the production was invited to Saint-Etienne, native city of the composer, for the centennial of the piece in 1993. 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.
In eighteenth-century repertoire, 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); he also directed a workshop for young singers on Iphigénie en Tauride for the Opéra de Massy in 1995. 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 et du Musée Suédois du Théâtre. Drottningholm, a still-active Swedish theater from the eighteenth century, allows Gilbert Blin, in partnership with musicologist Rémy-Michel Trotier, to lead research on opera and develop a whole practice for period theater, through publishing, education, and stage productions on an international scale. The Académie Desprez’s original achievement was supported by the Drottningholmsteaterns Vänner foundation when Gilbert Blin received, in 2002, the Henrik Nordmark stipendium from the hands of HRH the Princess Victoria of Sweden.
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. Recently, 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 seventeenth-century Roman performance will be touring France in 2009.
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. In 2007, with musicians Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Gilbert Blin directed Lully’s Psyché at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, and at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. In 2008, Gilbert Blin was appointed Stage Director in Residence of the Boston Early Music Festival and has served in that role for 2009's production of Monteverdi's Poppea as well as BEMF's new Chamber Opera series.