L'Erismena, co-directed by Julianne Baird and Grant Herreid
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
Diarte, prison guard bass