Baroque Academy Opera Project

L'Erismena, co-directed by Julianne Baird and Grant Herreid

July 1-8, 2023

Muhlenberg College
3400 Chew Street
Allentown, PA 18104
United States


The 2023 Baroque Academy will be held Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, July 1 -8, 2023. Opera singers should plan to begin rehearsing the afternoon of Saturday, July 1. (The Festival week runs July 2-9.)

  • Pitch is A=415.
  • Audition due date: April 1, 2023 for singers.
  • Tuition: $695.

The Opera Project at the 2023 Amherst Early Music Festival will be L'Erismena, by Francesco Cavalli. Co-directed by Julianne Baird and Grant Herreid, with Lawrence Rosenwald, texts, and Dorothy Olsson, historical dance.

Perform a role in our fully staged production with Baroque orchestra and historical dance. Sessions on period acting and performance techniques. Master class and coachings. Performance Friday, July 7, 2023. Audition by April 1, 2023 (singers), April 15, 2023 (instrumentalists).

Baroque Opera Project Daily Schedule: 9:00-10:30 Master class, 11:00-12:15 staging rehearsal, 1:30-3:00 musical rehearsal, 3:30 to 5:30 tutti rehearsal with orchestra. Opera dress rehearsal: Thursday evening, July 6 , after the Faculty Concert.

L'Erismena by Francesco Cavalli

English translation by Robert Bargrave

In 2007, Oxford’s famed Bodleiean Library paid 85,000 Pounds to purchase the only surviving score of Cavalli’s l’Erismena.

Why pay so much for a book? Because l’Erismena actually qualifies as the first English Opera—predating Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. The prologue, also composed by Cavalli, was written for a royal British occasion.

L’Erismena is one of the best of Cavalli’s 40 operas. It is full of lilting and mellifluous melodies and hilarious plot twists and mistaken identities. Almost every character is paired at the end of the Opera with a different person than the one they began with.

Robert Bargrave was a musically-knowledgeable English merchant who spent the latter part of the 1656 carnival season in Venice. He wrote in his travel diary: “One Opera (L’Erismena) I saw represented about 16 severall times; and so farr was I from being weary of it, I would ride hundreds of miles to see the same over again.”

Bargrave commissioned a score, brought it back to England, and made a new score with English lyrics. That is the version we will perform. The AEM edition will have added viola and wind parts.

Since sung opera was new in late 17th c England, our production will be set in a public theater c. 1675-80, such as described by Samuel Pepys in his diaries. An actor playing Bargrave will explain various aspects of the confusing plot, but also address certain modern updates, like the addition of a French dance troupe to perform chaconnes and other dances, the new-fangled oboe and bassoon, and his commissioning of new instrumental music from 'young Henry Purcell.'

The cast of characters:
Erimante, king of Media bass
Erismena, daughter of Erimante soprano
Aldimira, slave of Erimante soprano
Alcesta, Aldimira's nurse alto (or tenor)
Idraspe (disguised as Erineo), prince of Iberia soprano (or alto or tenor)
Orimeno, prince of Colchus soprano
Argippo, servant of Orimeno bass
Flerida soprano
Diarte Erimante’s captain / prison guard baritone

Audition Due date

April 1, 2023


Grant Voice & Lute

Festival FAQs

Union College
807 Union Street, Schenectady, NY 12308
Close to a major airport (15+ minutes from Albany International Airport), accessible by Amtrak (station is 1 mile from Union College) and Megabus, Union College is 3 hours away by car from NYC and Boston, and 4 hours from Montreal.

The meal card is $227 and covers one week of meals starting with dinner on June 30, (July 7 for week 2) thru breakfast on July 7, (July 16=4 for week 2). A la carte meal prices are $10 / $13.50 / $16.75 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

All standard rooms and classrooms are air-conditioned. Budget rate housing is not air-conditioned. Basic linens (sheets, pillow, and towels) are included with all housing. Beds are twin, extra long.


Baroque Academy Audition Information

To apply for Baroque Academy, please submit the following through our audition portal. Due dates are April 1, 2024 for singers, and April 15, 2024 for instrumentalists.

  1. $30 registration fee
  2. Your resume or a brief description (one or two paragraphs) summarizing your musical background and experience, including formal and informal training and education.
  3. 10-15 minutes of music showing your technique, expression, and understanding of Baroque style. The piece need not be accompanied. Please include composer and title information with your submission.
  4. Singers auditioning for the Baroque Opera Project will need to submit a head shot and a brief physical description: hair color, eye color, height, and weight. Photographs are accepted in any standard form. This information is required to be considered for a role in the opera.

Scholarships & Work-Study


All participants are welcome to apply for tuition assistance through AEM's Work-Study program. Please fill out the work study application form to apply. Notice of awards will be sent in late May. Questions about Work-Study can be sent to Click here to show mail address.

AEM Scholarships

To apply for AEM scholarships, send a one-page letter to Marilyn Boenau, the Executive Director of AEM, explaining your interest in early music or dance, your goal in attending the Festival, and your financial need. Email to Click here to show mail address.

The Washington McClain Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Baroque oboist and Amherst Early Music faculty member Washington McClain. It will fund scholarships for students who have historically been underrepresented in the early music field, including African-American, Latinx, and others. Awards will cover tuition, room and board, and travel and may be used for any in-person AEM event, particularly the Amherst Early Music Festival. To apply send a letter of inquiry to Click here to show mail address, with information about your interest in early music or dance.

In addition to scholarships, AEM offers work study tuition to all of our workshops, and the Amherst Early Music Festival. Work study is an option for students of any age.

Other Organizations

American Recorder Society offers scholarships to recorder players for Weekend Workshops as well as Summer Festivals. Any ARS member who needs financial assistance to attend a weekend or week-long workshop may apply for this scholarship. Deadline: May 15.

Lute Society of America scholarships include full tuition, room & board, and some travel. Due Date May 1

Early Music America offers scholarships to help students attend early music and historical performance workshops in North America. Applications due April 17, 2023.

Viola da Gamba Society of America offers Grants-in-Aid to its members to attend Workshops and Masterclasses.

The Historical Keyboard Society of North America has established the Funaro Fund Award to support its members to offset the cost of traveling to an early keyboard event.