Press Release


Boston Early Music Festival announces the full schedule for the 2019 Festival & Exhibition: June 9-16, 2019 in Boston

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“Arguably the most important and influential Early Music event in the world.” BBC Radio 3

Cambridge, MA – The Boston Early Music Festival announces the full schedule for the 2019 Festival and Exhibition – themed Dreams and Madness – taking place from June 9 to June 16 in Boston, Massachusetts. The 20th biennial Festival and Exhibition features the North American premiere of Agostino Steffani’s 1691 opera Orlando generoso, a revival of VERSAILLES: Portrait of a Royal Domain from the BEMF Chamber Opera Series, seventeen concerts showcasing the finest artists in the field today, the world-famous Exhibition, and so much more. Subscription packages and individual tickets are available now from the BEMF Box Office at or 617-661-1812.

CENTERPIECE OPERA: Steffani’s Orlando
The GRAMMY-winning Boston Early Music Festival takes audiences on a journey to a fantastical world of wizards and dragons in the fully staged North American premiere of Agostino Steffani’s 1691 opera Orlando generoso. The valiant knight Orlando travels to distant China in search of his love, Princess Angelica. When she rejects him, he spirals into self-doubt and madness in a psychological drama full of magic and mystery. Based on Ludovico Ariosto’s 16th-century epic, Orlando is a profound masterpiece that deconstructs medieval myths to examine deeply human themes of desire, love, jealousy, and madness. Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and Stage Director Gilbert Blin will lead this new production in four fully staged performances, June 9, 12, 14, and 16, 2019 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre (219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, USA). Ticket packages are available through the BEMF Box Office at 617-661-1812 or; individual tickets are available through the Box Office at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at or 617-824-8000.

“Ludovico Ariosto’s 16th-century epic poem Orlando furioso was a rip-roaring tale of romance, intrigue, exoticism, and magic, and was as popular with Baroque audiences as Game of Thrones is today!” offers Stephen Stubbs. “Steffani, in his most acclaimed opera, gave musical wings to this beloved tale and crafted one of opera’s earliest portraits of madness within a dreamscape of enchanted castles and far-off lands.”

The Boston Early Music Festival’s fully staged production of Orlando will feature magnificent, period-inspired costumes, brilliant sets, breathtaking flying machines, and truly ravishing music. Rounding out the directorial team will be Concertmaster Robert Mealy leading the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Dance Director Melinda Sullivan supervising the Boston Early Music Festival Dance Company, Choreographer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, Set Designer Gilbert Blin, Costume Designer Anna Watkins, and Executive Producer Kathleen Fay. BEMF has assembled a truly outstanding cast of 9 singers, including many critically-acclaimed favorites from past BEMF productions, with GRAMMY-winning tenor Aaron Sheehan in the title role, soprano Amanda Forsythe as Princess Angelica, soprano Emőke Baráth as Bradamante, and more. Joining them will be the 30-member Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra led by Concertmaster Robert Mealy, 8 Baroque dancers from the Boston Early Music Festival Dance Company under the direction of Melinda Sullivan, Dance Director, and 11 members of the BEMF Young Artists Training Program under the leadership of Gilbert Blin, Founder & Director and Jason McStoots, Associate Director, 2019.

CHAMBER OPERA: VERSAILLES: Portrait of a Royal Domain
VERSAILLES: Portrait of a Royal Domain is a musical feast inspired by the splendor and majesty of Versailles at the height of Louis XIV’s reign, including masterworks by some of the most revered composers from the Sun King’s court. Originally performed in the King’s private apartments at the palace in 1682, Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles features personifications of the courtly pleasures bickering for supremacy until the god of banquets restores the peace. The pleasures then usher in a selection of divertissements from Lully’s Atys—a 1672 masterpiece called the “King’s Opera” for the enduring favor it enjoyed with Louis. Finally, Lalande’s Les Fontaines de Versailles—first performed in the King’s apartments in the spring of 1683—sees the sculpted deities who ornament the garden’s dazzling fountains come alive to sing in praise of the Sun King.

“Ravishingly sung and acted.” —The Boston Globe 

The elegance and drama of these three works is brought to life by the all-star BEMF Vocal and Chamber Ensembles in a magnificent presentation featuring gorgeous costumes and sumptuous period staging, produced in partnership with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles. Twelve singers and thirteen instrumentalists of the BEMF Vocal & Chamber Ensembles will be led by BEMF’s GRAMMY-winning Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and Stage Director Gilbert Blin. The directorial team also features Concertmaster Robert Mealy, Dance Director Melinda Sullivan, Choreographer Carlos Fittante, Costume Designer Anna Watkins, and Executive Producer Kathleen Fay. The first performance will take place at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 8pm. Tickets are available now through the BEMF Box Office at or 617-661-1812. 

BEMF in the Berkshires
The weekend following the conclusion of the June 2019 Festival in Boston, the BEMF Chamber Opera Series will present two encore performances of VERSAILLES at the splendid Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Friday, June 21, 2019 at 8pm and Saturday, June 22, 2019 at 3pm. Tickets ($25–$85) are available now through the Boston Early Music Festival Box Office at or 617-661-1812 or from the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Box Office at or 413-528-0100. BEMF will also bring the production to the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at 4pm. Tickets ($51–$110) are available at or 914-232-1252.

“If you are interested in early music, this is the place to be.” The New York Times

Hailed as “Heaven … for early music fans,” by The New York Times, the June 2019 Festival presents a series of seventeen concerts showcasing the most accomplished artists and ensembles in Early Music. With afternoon, evening, and late night concerts, music lovers can enjoy an array of thrilling performances from some of the world’s most engaging artists.

The Festival Concert week opens with a monumental performance of Bach’s Matthaüs Passion from the Gramophone Award-winning Dunedin Consort on Monday, June 10, 2019 at 8pm. Longtime BEMF guest artist Kristian Bezuidenhout will direct the 8 singers and 23 instrumentalists from this acclaimed Scottish ensemble in what promises to be an inimitably fresh performance of one of the most iconic masterpieces of the Baroque. All week long, BEMF’s evening concerts showcase some of the Early Music’s truly essential ensembles, including Vox Luminis exploring early influences on J. S. Bach; Sequentia marking the 30th anniversary of their BEMF début with an intense new program exploring the music of ancient Europe; GRAMMY-nominee Stile Antico celebrating the 10th anniversary of their North American début at BEMF’s 2009 Festival in a program of Elizabethan masterpieces; and the all-star BEMF Orchestra with director Robert Mealy delighting in theatrical music of Rameau in a breathtaking concert featuring sopranos Emőke Baráth and Teresa Wakim, baritone Christian Immler, and dancers Caroline Copeland and Pierre-François Dollé.

Even more great music appears in 6 days of afternoon concerts, including an evocative stage show featuring music and dance from the French Renaissance with Doulce Mémoire. Superstar fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout is back for his 8th Festival with a virtuoso quartet to present Mozart and Beethoven’s quintets for piano and winds, while the fearless instrumentalists of ACRONYM Ensemble make their BEMF début in a vividly rendered fantasy tour of Baroque masterpieces. Boston native Phoebe Carrai has established herself as one of the world’s preeminent virtuosos on the violoncello and joins with world-class collaborators for an intriguing survey of chamber music from Italian composers abroad. Italian gamba virtuoso Vittorio Ghielmi makes his long-awaited BEMF début alongside harpsichordist Shalev ad-El in an arresting program of Baroque masterworks from France and England; and the duo of Stefan Temmingh, recorder, and Wiebke Weidanz, harpsichord, make their BEMF début in a fascinating look at composers who lived on the borderline of society.

The Festival Concert offerings round out with a series of 6 late-night concerts that keep the music going until almost midnight, including: tenor Zachary Wilder and lutenist Josep Maria Martí Duran in a delicious program that celebrates the melodrama of 17th-century Italy; keyboard virtuoso Luca Guglielmi on two exceptional harpsichords from BEMF’s own Instrument Collection; The Boston Camerata, BEMF’s longest continuously active guest ensemble; two of our favorite singers, Amanda Forsythe and Christian Immler, in a passionate recital of songs exploring themes of madness and despair; the enduringly delightful Ensemble Clément Janequin with a showcase of vivacious humor and timeless grace in music from the Renaissance; and finally, one of BEMF audiences’ favorite ensembles, Solamente Naturali performing an invigorating program infused with classical and folk traditions.

In addition to the schedule of Festival Concerts, BEMF will offer two Mini-Festivals during the week. David Yearsley directs the Organ Mini-Festival on Thursday, June 13 at The First Lutheran Church of Boston, with performances by three internationally acclaimed organ virtuosos: Luca Guglielmi, David Yearsley, and Kimberly Marshall. On Friday, June 14, the Keyboard Mini-Festival takes place at First Church Boston, with recitals by Benjamin Alard on harpsichord, Byron Schenkman on fortepiano, and Benjamin Alard on clavichord.

“One stop shopping for the…historical-performance set.”
The Wall Street Journal

The world-famous Exhibition, “one of the largest showcases for early instruments in the country” (The Boston Globe) is host to some of the top tradespeople from across the globe, with makers of period instruments, music publishers, dealers in rare books, prints, and manuscripts, and conservatories and schools of music. Returning to the Courtyard Marriott Boston Downtown at 275 Tremont Street, Boston, these specialists will be on hand Wednesday, June 12 through Saturday, June 15 to display their products, and share details of their work with Festival attendees.

The one-of-a-kind BEMF CD Store returns for the 2019 Exhibition with hundreds of CDs from the field’s most distinguished labels all in one place. Also returning will be the Exhibition’s Family Day on Saturday, June 15 where children and parents alike can enjoy a scavenger hunt among the Exhibition’s instrument-makers as well as an interactive introduction to the patchwork of historical and modern traditions that make up American musical culture with The Promised Land. Family Day admission is FREE for parents and children.

On Friday, June 14, 2019 at 3pm, BEMF will present a special concert in Emmanuel Church’s Parish Hall featuring members of the BEMF Young Artists Training Program. This concert, which is free and open to the public, will feature excerpts from Handel’s Orlando performed by the nine singers of the program, led by the 2019 program’s Associate Director, Jason McStoots, and accompanied by répétiteur Jeffrey Grossman.

Other concurrent events for the 2019 Festival include: the BEMF 2019 Collegium on Wednesday, June 12, which offers collegiate singers and instrumentalists the opportunity to perform under the baton of Vox Luminis director Lionel Meuinier; Performance Masterclasses by distinguished Festival musicians; the Gala Opening Night Reception on Sunday, June 9 at the Courtyard Marriott Boston Downtown; Dance Workshops; Pre-Opera Talks featuring preeminent Steffani scholar and University of Birmingham, UK, Emeritus Professor Colin Timms; and a remarkable array of Fringe Concerts throughout the Festival week. Festival Week Passes ($40) provide admission to the Exhibition, Symposia, Performance Masterclasses, Dance Workshops, and Pre-Opera Talks for the entire week and may be purchased in advance. Festival Week Passes and Day Passes ($10) will be sold at the Exhibition and other concurrent events during the Week.

Concert tickets range from $25 to $70. Chamber Opera tickets range from $25 to $105 while Centerpiece Opera tickets range from $30 to $250. Tickets are available from the BEMF Box Office online at or by calling 617-661-1812. Subscription Packages of four or more concerts are also available with discounts up to 20% off. Individual tickets for the Centerpiece Opera are available through the Box Office at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at or 617-824-8000.

2019 Festival Press Ticket Policy:

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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 four 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 20th Boston Early Music Festival will take place from June 9–16, 2019, and feature the fully staged North American premiere of Agostino Steffani’s Orlando as the Centerpiece Opera. 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.

The 2019 Boston Early Music Festival is presented with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Constellation Charitable Foundation, WGBH Radio Boston, the Institut Français, as well as a number of generous foundations and individuals from around the world.

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