1997 Rossi’s L’Orfeo

BEMF Opera | 1997 Centerpiece Opera

Rossi’s L'Orfeo

June 10, 11, 13, 14, and 15, 1997
Emerson Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA

June 1997
Tanglewood Summer Music Festival, Lenox, MA

August 1997
Drottingholm Court Theatre, Stockholm, Sweden

This year celebrated the double anniversary of Luigi Rossi’s birth (1597) and the first performance in Paris of his magnificent opera L’Orfeo. That first performance can be described without exaggeration as the most important music and cultural event of the mid-17th-century, effectively beginning opera in France. Cardinal Mazarin, having experienced the artistic opulence of Rome, recognized the power of musical theatre to amaze and delight its audience. For years, Mazarin dreamed of bringing such a spectacle before the French court and public. In 1647, he invited 18 of Italy’s finest singers to Paris to collaborate with the 24 violins of the French king, perhaps the first true orchestra. Luigi Rossi, one of the most important and influential composers of his time, wrote a hauntingly beautiful and richly varied score of the occasion.

Thus, conditions were auspicious for a performance of the first range as well as a fruitful meeting of two musical cultures. Whether complementary or competitive, Italian and French music became the dominant forces in European music for the next century. This dichotomy will be explored as the ventral theme of our 1997 Festival. No other single piece could better illustrate and illuminate the meeting point of these two cultures. BEMF’s monumental production with its elaborate Baroque libretto blending tragedy and commedia dell’arte comedy, its brilliant stagecraft, and its dramatic music makes a fascinating contrast with the Orfeo operas by Monteverdi and Gluck.


Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Artistic Directors
Jack Edwards, Stage Director
Peter Holman, Orchestra Director
Robin Linklater, Set & Costume Designer
Lucy Graham, Choreographer & Movement Adviser
L. Stacy Eddy, Lighting Designer

Costumes provided by the Drottningholm Court Theatre, Stockholm, Sweden


Jan Opalach, Augure
James Taylor, Endimione
Cyndia Sieden, Euridice
Laura Pudwell, Nutrice & Bacco
Ellen Hargis, Orfeo
Jennifer Lane, Aristeo
Curtis Streetman, Satiro
Suzie LeBlanc, Wanda Procyshyn & Nancy Mayer, Le Tre Grazie & Le Tre Parche
Christine Brandes, Amore
Susanne Peck, Benere
William Hite, Momo & Caronte
Alan Bennett, Apollo & Giove
Wanda Procyshyn, Imeneo
Meredith Hall, Giunone
Olof Lilja, Vecchia, La Gelosia & Plutone
Nancy Mayer, Il Sospetto
Susie LeBlanc, Proserpina
Eleonora Fuser, Serva di Euridice & Diavolo
Steve Player, Musicista al Matrimonio

Patrick Gnage, Randy Brent McGee, Mark Sprinkle & Jon Szabo

Lorraine M. Chapman, Kathleen McNulty, Tina Marie Walczak, Christopher Alloways-Ramsey, Robert Miller Moore & Robert Underwood

Boston Early Music Festival Renaissance Violin Band
David Douglass, concertmaster
Judy Tarling, Ingrid Matthews, Christopher Verrette & Julie Andrijeski, violin; Theresa Caudle, Margriet Tindemans, Robert Mealy, Scott Metcalfe, Patrick Jordan & Jane Starkman, viola; Mark Caudle, Emily Walhout, John Mark Rozendaal & Alice Robbins, bass violin; Stephen Stubbs & Elizabeth Kenny, chitarrone; Paul O’Dette, archlute; Paul O’Dette, Elizabeth Kenny, Patrick O’Brien & Steve Player, Spanish guitar; Peter Holman & Elisabeth Wright, harpsichord; Peter Holman, regal; Siobhán Armstrong, double harp; Erin Headley, lirone; Marilyn Boenau, Steven Lundahl, Mack Ramsey & Daniel Stillman, shawms, sackbuts, recorders, cornetto & bassoon; John Grimes, percussion