Press Release


Boston Early Music Festival presents Handel’s Apollo e Daphne – Saturday, April 6 in Harvard Square

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ARTIST:Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra
Robert Mealy & Avi Stein, directors
Amanda Forsythe, soprano
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
WHEN:Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 8pm
First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA
PROGRAM: George Frideric Handel: Apollo e Dafne
Handel: Apollo e Dafne
Handel: Concerto grosso in B-flat major, Op. 3 No. 2
Handel: Overture to Agrippina
Handel: Chaconne from Terpsichore
TICKETS:Tickets are priced at $20, $39, $51, and $70 each, and can be purchased at and 617-661-1812; a $5 discount for students, seniors, and groups is available by calling 617-661-1812.

Join the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, led by BEMF Orchestra Director Robert Mealy and harpsichordist Avi Stein, for a rare performance of Handel’s cantata Apollo e Dafne. An ambitious work from the composer’s early career, this masterpiece foreshadows his extensive operatic success with a vividly theatrical story drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The arrogant god Apollo is cursed to fall hopelessly in love with the beautiful nymph Daphne, forcing her to rebuff his increasingly fervent advances before escaping through a magical metamorphosis in a musically thrilling sequence featuring some of the young Handel’s most inventive and captivating writing. Rounding out the program will be Handel’s early Concerto grosso Op. 3 No. 2, his energetic Overture to Agrippina, and his sublime Passacaglia from Terpsichore.

To bring this mythological drama to life, BEMF welcomes back two of our most beloved soloists: soprano Amanda Forsythe and baritone Jesse Blumberg. Described by The New York Times as “simply dazzling in her fioritura and her altitudinous rages”, Amanda Forsythe regularly appears in prominent roles in BEMF productions, including Edilia in Handel’s Almiraand the title role in Monteverdi’s Poppea. Praised by Opera Today for his “richly nuanced voice” and “the stage presence of a veteran actor”, Jesse Blumberg appeared as Comus in Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles, and as Tracollo in Pergolesi’s Livietta e Tracollo. Forsythe and Blumberg enchanted audiences at the 2017 Festival as lovers Isabelle and Leandre in Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise.

There will be a pre-concert talk at 7pm by Handel scholar Ellen T. Harris.

The Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra is comprised of the best Baroque instrumentalists from around the world. The Orchestra was initially brought together for the biennial Boston Early Music Festival opera centerpiece and for orchestral concerts at the Festival—under a variety of names—but has long been recognized as an integral part of the Festival organization. The BEMF Orchestra has performed numerous concertos with internationally renowned soloists, and has presented modern premieres of Baroque serenatas and cantatas with BEMF singers. In May 2007, the BEMF Orchestra and Chorus made its first appearance on the BEMF annual concert series, presenting the North American premiere of Pergolesi’s Marian Vespers. September 2009 marked the European début of the BEMF Orchestra, led by Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, at perhaps the world’s most prestigious venue for French Baroque repertoire, the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles. The BEMF Orchestra opened the Centre’s 2009–2010 season to a fully packed house in the Grand Écurie du Chateau de Versailles.

One of America’s most prominent baroque violinists, Robert Mealy has been praised for his “imagination, taste, subtlety, and daring” by The Boston Globe. The New Yorker has called him “New York’s world-class early music violinist.” He has recorded and toured with a wide range of distinguished early music ensembles both here and in Europe, and has led orchestras for Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, Andrew Parrott, Paul Agnew, and Helmuth Rilling, among many others. Mr. Mealy is principal concertmaster for Trinity Wall Street’s choir and orchestra, and Orchestra Director of the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, which he has led in a decade of festival performances and recordings. Mr. Mealy is also co-director of the 17th-century ensemble Quicksilver, whose debut recording, Stile Moderno, was hailed as “breakthrough recording of the year” by the Huffington Post. He has been Director of Juilliard’s Historical Performance Program since 2009. He still likes to practice.

Avi Stein teaches vocal repertoire at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, continuo accompaniment at the Juilliard School, harpsichord at the Longy School and is the music director at St. Matthew & St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Manhattan. The New York Timesdescribed him as “a brilliant organ soloist” in his Carnegie Hall debut and he was recently featured in Early Music America magazine in an article on the new generation of leaders in the field. He is an active continuo accompanist who plays regularly with the Boston Early Music Festival, the Trinity Church Wall Street Choir and Baroque Orchestra, the Clarion Music Society and Bach Vespers NYC. Mr. Stein directed the young artists’ program at the Carmel Bach Festival and has conducted a variety of ensembles including the Opera Français de New York, OperaOmnia, and the Amherst Festival Opera. He also serves as director of the 4×4 Festival in New York City. He studied at Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Southern California, and was a Fulbright scholar in Toulouse.

In addition to a busy American schedule, acclaimed soprano Amanda Forsythe has sung principal roles in the opera houses of Geneva and Munich, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. A beloved veteran of BEMF, Ms. Forsythe has performed in Lully’s Psyché, Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe, Pergolesi’s La serva padrona and Livietta e Tracollo, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise. Her highly acclaimed recordings include BEMF’s GRAMMY-winning disc La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs, and a solo album of Handel arias The Power of Love with Apollo’s Fire.

Baritone Jesse Blumberg enjoys a busy schedule of opera, concerts, and recitals, in repertoire from the Renaissance to the 21st century. He has performed featured roles at Minnesota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Atlanta Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, Opera Atelier, and at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Jesse has sung major concert works with American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, Oratorio Society of New York, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Early Music Vancouver, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, and has made recital appearances with the New York Festival of Song, Marilyn Horne Foundation, and Mirror Visions Ensemble. His recordings include Bach Cantatas with Montréal Baroque, Rosenmüller in Exile with ACRONYM, Winterreise with pianist Martin Katz, St. John Passion with Apollo’s Fire, and Steffani and Charpentier operas with Boston Early Music Festival. Jesse is also the founding artistic director of Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City.

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BEMF’s 2018-2019 Season Press Release:

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 2018-2019 Boston Early Music Festival Concert Series is presented with support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, WGBH Radio Boston, and Harpsichord Clearing House, 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