FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2023
Boston Early Music Festival Opens Their 2023/24 Season on October 13
- BEMF presents 10 programs in Greater Boston and available for virtual viewing;
- The GRAMMY Award–winning BEMF Chamber Opera Series returns with The Dragon of Wantley with performances in Boston, Miami, and Troy, NY;
- Returning artists and ensembles include Le Poème Harmonique, The Tallis Scholars, the BEMF Vocal & Chamber Ensembles, Jordi Savall & Hespèrion XXI, and Stile Antico;
- The Season will feature BEMF débuts from Cappella Pratensis & Sollazzo Ensemble, I Gemelli, Opera Prima, and Le Consort
Cambridge, MA–Subscription packages and individual tickets are now on sale for the Boston Early Music Festival’s 2023/24 Season, featuring 10 programs in Boston and Cambridge. Thanks to the enthusiastic response from our fans around the world, BEMF will continue to offer virtual broadcasts following each in-person performance. A highlight of our 34th annual concert series will be a 3-city tour featuring an all-new production from the BEMF Chamber Opera Series, led by BEMF’s GRAMMY-winning Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and acclaimed Stage Director Gilbert Blin.
“One of the nation’s foremost Early Music organizations.”
—The New Yorker
BEMF opens our 2023/24 Season with the BEMF début of Cappella Pratensis in an exciting collaboration with Sollazzo Ensemble, who made their BEMF début in June at the 2023 Boston Early Music Festival. At the dawn of the Renaissance, the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady in the Dutch city of Den Bosch was renowned both for having one of the finest choirs in Europe and for hosting elaborate annual banquets where swans, a rare delicacy, were a signature of the menu. Their musicians would join the festivities, performing jubilant secular music alongside Marian songs and prayers. Both of these exceptional ensembles have won acclaim for their consummate virtuosity and passionate performances and will take you back to those grand banquets to experience the music and merriment for yourself on Friday, October 13, 2023 at 8pm at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational.
Renowned for performances that integrate stylish refinement with invigorating energy, Le Poème Harmonique returns to BEMF in a program of music for a young king by French Baroque masters Lully, Charpentier, Lalande, and others on Friday, October 27, 2023 at 8pm at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston. Before Versailles, the seat of French Kings during the reigns of Henri IV, Louis XIII, and Louis XIV was the Louvre Palace, embedded in the heart of Paris and alive with music from the rustic folk songs heard in the kitchens to the intimate concerts of the royal apartments. Director and founder Vincent Dumestre leads an ensemble of six instrumentalists and the exciting young mezzo-soprano Eva Zaïcik as they tell the story of this famous palace where life was lived to the rhythm of the most refined and exquisite music.
Join a duo of ideally matched tenors as Emiliano Gonzalez Toro and Zachary Wilder bring their racy and voluptuous timbres to some of the most beautiful songs and duets of the early Italian Baroque repertoire on Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 8pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston. Making their BEMF début in collaboration with these stunning singers will be eight instrumentalists from I Gemelli, an ensemble that specializes in 17th-century vocal repertoire and was founded in 2018 by Gonzalez Toro and soprano Mathilde Étienne. Voices and instruments engage in a lively and richly contrasting dialogue in this dazzlingly varied program featuring music by d’India, Frescobaldi, Calestani, Marini, Castello, and many others. This program will also be presented in New York City at the Morgan Library & Museum on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 7:30pm.
The GRAMMY-winning BEMF Chamber Opera Series return for rollicking masterpiece that’s Monty Python meets Handel with John Frederick Lampe’s The Dragon of Wantley. A fire-breathing dragon is terrorizing the Yorkshire countryside and only the local squire, Moore of Moore Hall, can save the day. If only he can be bothered to put down his beer. The Dragon of Wantley, the most popular operatic production of the entire 18th century in England, enjoyed a 45-year run. Lampe deftly lampoons the excesses of Handelian opera in this hilarious farce from 1736. Don’t miss this “popular tradition among local early music fans” (The Boston Globe) on Thanksgiving weekend in Boston, Saturday, November 25, 2023 at 8pm and Sunday, November 26, 2023 at 3pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall. Following the Boston performances, the production will continue on to Miami on November 30, presented by RK Cultural Productions, and to Troy, NY on December 2 at the historic Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
This all-new production is led by BEMF’s GRAMMY-winning Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and internationally acclaimed Stage Director Gilbert Blin. The stellar cast includes GRAMMY nominee Teresa Wakim as Margery, Emily Siar as Mauxalinda, GRAMMY winner Aaron Sheehan as Moore, John Taylor Ward as The Dragon, and Douglas Williams as Gubbins alongside the all-star BEMF Chamber Ensemble with Concertmaster Robert Mealy and the BEMF Dance Company and Choreographer Melinda Sullivan. Rounding out the directorial team for this must-see operatic event are Costume Designer Seth Bodie, Assistant Stage Director Jason McStoots, and Executive Producer Kathleen Fay.
Celebrating the ensemble’s 50th birthday this fall, the legendary singers of The Tallis Scholars and director Peter Phillips have earned worldwide acclaim for performances and recordings of unparalleled purity and clarity that beautifully illuminate Renaissance polyphony. They make their 35th annual appearance for BEMF on Friday, December 8, 2023 at 8pm at St. Paul Church, Cambridge with a glorious program that tells the Christmas story from the perspective of the shepherds who came to the manger, and features a mass by Clemens non Papa based on his motet Pastores quidnam vidistis? (Who did you see, Shepherds?).
Founded by famed viola da gamba virtuoso Cristiano Contadin, the ensemble Opera Prima is dedicated to exploring the Italian repertoire of the 1600s with technical mastery and buoyant enthusiasm. They make their BEMF début on Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 8pm at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational alongside superstar soprano Amanda Forsythe, in a program that explores the passions of the human soul. Thrill to stunningly evocative masterpieces from the most brilliant and imaginative Italian composers of the 17th century, including Monteverdi, Rossi, Merula, and Caccini. This program will also be presented in New York City at the Morgan Library & Museum on Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 7:30pm.
Founded in 2016, Le Consort comprises four young musicians who interpret the trio sonata repertoire with enthusiasm, sincerity, and modernity. Their performances have won accolades around the world for their dynamic and sensual virtuosity. Join these captivating musicians for their BEMF début on Friday, February 23, 2024 at 8pm at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational as they lead us on a whirlwind tour through Italy, England, Germany, and France, illustrating the immense expressive range and creativity of Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Purcell, Rameau, and others. The program features two magnificent settings of La Follia—the era’s most recognizable melody, and one which still resonates today.
The incomparable members of the BEMF Vocal & Chamber Ensembles explore a garden of earthly delights of the Roman Baroque with a modern premiere of cantatas by Marco Marazzoli on Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 8pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston. Each of these extravagant musical entertainments treats a different subject—from an indulgent Bacchus to an allegorical struggle between War and Peace—while the miniature dramas present a kaleidoscopic variety of arias, duets, trios, and quartets culminating in glorious choruses for six voices. GRAMMY-winning Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs lead an all-star roster of 14 singers and instrumentalists including GRAMMY-winning tenor Aaron Sheehan and GRAMMY nominees Teresa Wakim (soprano) and Jesse Blumberg (baritone), among others. This program will be repeated in New York City at the Morgan Library & Museum on Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 3pm.
For more than a half century, Jordi Savall has established himself as one of the most engaging musical personalities of his generation, in performances that marry meticulous research with virtuosic musicianship. A favorite of BEMF audiences since appearing on our very first concert series in 1989, he returns to Boston alongside his legendary ensemble Hespèrion XXI to bring to life the “new music” that took Europe by storm at the start of the Baroque period, featuring selections by Cavalieri, Frescobaldi, Falconieri, Kapsberger, and others on Friday, April 5, 2024 at 8pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston.
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy is considered one of the greatest works of literature ever written. Its enduring imagery has shaped Western culture’s views of the afterlife for more than 700 years and has inspired a large body of philosophy, art, and—of course—music. Stile Antico, one of the world’s most vibrant and expressive vocal ensembles, returns to BEMF on Friday, April 19, 2024 at 8pm at St. Paul Church, Cambridge to tell the story of Dante’s descent into Hell, journey through Purgatory, and final arrival at the gates of Heaven. Renaissance music by composers such as Victoria, Palestrina, and Morales illuminate the path, while texts by Dante himself—set to music by Luzzaschi and Merulo—narrate the story. At the pinnacle of Heaven we meet the Virgin Mary in Giovanni Gabrieli’s glorious 12-part Magnificat.
Subscriptions and individual tickets are on sale now through the Boston Early Music Festival Box Office at 617-661-1812 or online at BEMF.org. Discounted subscription packages start as low as $67.50 for three programs.
The Boston Early Music Festival 2023/24 Season is presented with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Constellation Charitable Foundation, 99.5 WCRB: Classical Radio Boston, a service of WGBH, ArtsBoston, and the Cambridge Community Foundation.
During the 2023/24 Season, while we encourage patrons to wear a mask during our performances, masks will no longer be required. Patrons wishing to wear a mask should feel free to do so without judgment. We kindly ask that patrons experiencing respiratory symptoms wear a mask or consider watching the virtual broadcast that will available free to all in-person ticket buyers.
In lieu of Pre-Concert Talks at the venue, we will present online Pre-Concert Videos with informative discussions featuring scholars and artists the week before each program—FREE to watch on YouTube or at BEMF.org.
VIRTUAL TICKET OPTIONS FOR ALL PROGRAMS
For the 2023/24 Season, all of our programs will be available for virtual viewing starting one to two weeks after the performance on our secure, online platform. This added convenience offers our patrons—in Boston and around the world—options to enjoy all 10 programs. BEMF will be working in partnership with Ball Square Films and Videographer Kathy Wittman, and Recording Engineer Antonio Oliart Ros to record the live performances. They will collaborate with our presented artists and ensembles to produce fully edited concert videos of their performances with BEMF to share with ticket buyers. Virtual Tickets will be included FREE with all in-person tickets or can be purchased on their own.
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 (BEMF) has been credited with securing Boston’s reputation as “America’s early music capital” (The Boston Globe). Founded in 1981, BEMF offers diverse programs and activities, including one GRAMMY Award–winning and five GRAMMY Award–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 23rd Boston Early Music Festival will take place from June 8 to 15, 2025, and will feature a fully staged production of Reinhard Keiser’s Octavia. BEMF’s Artistic Leadership includes Artistic Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Opera Director Gilbert Blin, Orchestra Director Robert Mealy, and Dance Director Melinda Sullivan.
For more information, images, press tickets, or to schedule an interview, please contact Kathleen Fay at 617-661-1812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.