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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 14, 2011
CONTACT: Kathleen Fay, Executive Director
617-661-1812 | kathy@bemf.org

The Boston Early Music Festival Presents Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs, the Fourth Annual Chamber Opera Series

Cambridge, MA – November 14, 2011- The Boston Early Music Festival will present the fourth in its annual series of Baroque chamber operas, a double bill of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs as part of its annual concert season on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 8pm and Sunday, November 27 at 3pm at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall (30 Gainsborough Street in Boston, MA). Tickets are priced at $19, $38, $49, $66, and $125 are available through the Boston Early Music Festival at 617-661-1812 or at WWW.BEMF.ORG, as well as through the Jordan Hall Box Office located at 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston and by telephone at 617-585-1260.

The Charpentier double bill will be led by three-time Grammy-nominated BEMF Artistic Co-Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs; along with Stage Director Gilbert Blin; Costume Designer Anna Watkins; and Choreographer Melinda Sullivan. Starring in the title role of Orphée will be tenor Aaron Sheehan, who last appeared with BEMF in the Chamber Opera Series production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea which toured North America earlier this year. Sheehan won critical acclaim in the title role of Acis, being praised by The New York Times for his “attractive, strong tenor and fluid acting style.” A frequent BEMF opera cast member, his past appearances include the lead in the 2008 Chamber Opera Series production of Charpentier’s Actéon and L’Amour in the 2007 Festival Centerpiece and subsequent Grammy-nominated recording of Lully’s Psyche, among others. Sheehan leads a vocal cast of favorites from past BEMF opera productions including Mireille Asselin, Carrie Henneman Shaw, Michael Kelly, Olivier Laquerre, Thea Lobo, Jason McStoots, Megan Stapleton, Brenna Wells, and Douglas Williams. They appear alongside four dancers with the BEMF Baroque Dance Ensemble, and the ten member BEMF Chamber Ensemble including concertmaster Robert Mealy.

For its fourth annual Chamber Opera Series production, BEMF returns to Marc-Antoine Charpenieter, the composer of Actéon in BEMF’s first presentation of chamber operas in 2008. These two miniature masterpieces of the French Baroque explore the transcendental power of music and showcase Charpentier’s brilliance. “These two pieces reveal Charpentier’s richness of style,” remarks Stage Director Gilbert Blin. “They also offer a meditation on the ‘functions’ of music—from songs of royal praise to personal lament—and how music has the power to transcend reality.”

La Couronne de Fleurs, based on a text by Molière, depicts a musical contest in tribute to Louis XIV as shepherds vie for a crown of flowers from the goddess Flora for the most beautiful and eloquent aria. The tragic La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers tells the famous story of Orphée who descends into the underworld to rescue his beloved Euridice using his musical charms. Unlike most versions of the story, Charpentier’s score ends as Orphée and Euridice begin their ascent from the underworld, omitting the legend’s final tragedy. For this new production, Stage Director Gilbert Blin presents both works together, imagining a performance of La Couronne de Fleurs where Orphée is offered as an entry in the poetic contest being depicted.

PROGRAM:

Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series

WHEN:

Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 8pm
Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 3pm

WHERE: New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall
30 Gainsborough Street, Boston, MA
PROGRAM: 

Marc-Antoine Charpentier:
La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers
and La Couronne de Fleurs

Paul O'Dette & Stephen Stubbs, Musical Directors
Gilbert Blin, Stage Director
Anna Watkins, Costume Designer
Melinda Sullivan, Choreographer

Vocal Cast
Aaron Sheehan, Orphée
Mireille Asselin, Carrie Henneman Shaw, Michael Kelly, Olivier Laquerre, Thea Lobo, Jason McStoots, Megan Stapleton, Brenna Wells, Douglas Williams

Boston Early Music Festival Chamber EnsembleRobert Mealy, concertmaster
Cynthia Roberts, violin
Laura Jeppesen, viola da gamba
Christel Thielmann, viola da gamba
Beiliang Zhu, viola da gamba
Gonzalo X. Ruiz, oboe & recorder
Kathryn Montoya, oboe & recorder
Avi Stein, harpsichord
Paul O’Dette, Baroque guitar and theorbo
Stephen Stubbs, Baroque guitar and theorbo

Boston Early Music Festival Baroque Dance EnsembleCarlos Fittante, Olsi Gjeci, Caitlin Klinger, Alexis Silver, Baroque dancers

TICKETS:

Tickets are priced at $19, $38, $49, $66 and $125 each and can be purchased at WWW.BEMF.ORG and 617-661-1812; a $5 discount for students, seniors, and groups is offered by calling 617-661-1812. Subscription discounts of 10% are available with the purchase of three or more programs.

Individual tickets are also available through the Jordan Hall Box Office located at 30 Gainsborough Street in Boston and by telephone at 617-585-1260.

RESOURCES
Download artist photos
http://www.bemf.org/pages/press/images.htm

ABOUT THE BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL CHAMBER OPERA SERIES
In 2008, BEMF took the same level of musicianship and scholarship employed in their fully-staged Festival opera productions and directed it towards small-scale works with the introduction of the BEMF Chamber Opera Series. Each production would feature intimate staging with full costumes and elements of Baroque dance. The inaugural production in November 2008 paired Charpentier’s Actéon with Blow’s Venus and Adonis and was hailed by the Boston Globe as “vivid performances of two seldom-heard works” and “a highly welcome addition to the local concert calendar.” Subsequent productions include Handel’s original 1718 chamber version of Acis and Galatea in 2009 and a 2011 North American Tour and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 2010. Recordings of Charpentier’s Actéon and Blow’s Venus and Adonis have been released by BEMF in the last year.

ABOUT THE BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Recognized as the preeminent early music presenter and Baroque opera producer in North America, the Boston Early Music Festival has been credited with securing Boston’s reputation as “America’s early music capital” (The Boston Globe). Founded in 1981, the Boston Early Music Festival offers diverse programs and activities, including three Grammy-nominated opera recordings, an annual concert series that brings early music’s brightest stars to the Boston and New York concert stages, and a biennial week-long Festival and Exhibition recognized as the “world’s leading festival of early music” (The Times, London). The 17th Boston Early Music Festival is planned for June 9–16, 2013.

The 2011–2012 Boston Early Music Festival Concert Series is presented with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, ConstellationCenter, 99.5 All Classical, Harpsichord Clearing House, Zuckermann Harpsichords International, The Gregory E. Bulger Foundation, U. S. Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management, and GTC Law Group.

For more information, images, press tickets, or to schedule an interview, please contact Kathleen Fay at 617-661-1812 or email kathy@bemf.org.

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