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Francesca Caccini’s Alcina

Sunday June 25, 2023 at 4:00pm

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Sunday June 25, 2023 at 4:00pm

Spend a late afternoon on a magical island with a beautiful enchantress, a vengeful sorceress, a valiant knight, and an eager lover who gets seduced, then cursed and turned into a rock. This passionate paradise awaits you in the tent of Caramoor’s Venetian Theater.

Full of wit, drama, and melodious arias, this first opera by a female composer will cast its spell as Caramoor’s gardens are transformed through song, people shapeshift into trees, and true love prevails.

Garden Listening / For those who prefer a more casual concert environment, Garden Listening tickets are $20, and are free for Members and children under 18 years old. Listen to the concert broadcast onto Friends Field (audio only) while enjoying a picnic, admiring a starry sky, or relaxing with the family. We recommend you bring your own seating for Garden Listening.

Pre-Concert Events Included with Ticket

3:00pm / Join us for a conversation with Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs.
3:00pm / Toast Pride Month with LGBTQ+ friends, family, and allies at our annual Pride and Prosecco reception!

Francesca Caccini: Alcina

Boston Early Music Festival
Paul O’Dette & Stephen Stubbs, Musical Directors
Gilbert Blin, Stage Director
Melinda Sullivan, Dance Director
Mireille Lebel, mezzo-soprano (Alcina)
Colin Balzer, tenor (Ruggerio)
Virginia Warnken Kelsey, mezzo-soprano (Melissa)
David Evans, tenor
Brian Giebler, tenor
John Taylor Ward, baritone
Michael Galvin, bass-baritone

More About Caccini’s Alcina

A contemporary of Monteverdi and a colleague of Galileo, Francesca Caccini came of age in Florence during the earliest years of opera as an art form. Both a composer and a performer, she was one of the most important musical figures at the Medici court during the regency of Christina of Lorraine and her daughter-in-law Maria Maddalena. In 1625, amid this time of female leadership, she created the first opera by a woman composer, La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina. Alcina is a brilliant entertainment, full of wit, magic, and drama, with a demanding title role first sung by the composer herself. At the center of a struggle of illusion and destiny, the sorceress Alcina stands between the valiant magician Melissa and her quest to save the warrior Ruggiero and liberate the captives who Alcina has transformed into plants and trees to ornament her island.

Learn More About the Artists

Stephen Stubbs, conductor

Stephen Stubbs, who won a Grammy Award as conductor for Best Opera Recording in 2015, returned to his native Seattle in 2006 after 30 years in Europe as one of the world’s most respected lutenists, conductors, and Baroque opera specialists. In 2007, he established his new production company there, Pacific MusicWorks (PMW); its inaugural presentation was of South African artist William Kentridge’s acclaimed multimedia staging of Claudio Monteverdi’s opera The Return of Ulysses in a co-production with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. PMW’s performances of the Monteverdi Vespers were described in the press as “utterly thrilling” and “of a quality you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else in the world.” Stubbs is also the Boston Early Music Festival’s Artistic Co-Director along with his long-time colleague Paul O’Dette. They are the musical directors of all BEMF operas, recordings of which were nominated for six Grammy awards, including one Grammy win in 2015, two Echo Klassik awards, the Diapason d’Or de l’Année, and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Stubbs has also conducted many operas throughout North America and in Europe. His extensive discography as conductor and solo lutenist includes well over 100 CDs, many of which have received international acclaim and awards. 

To learn more about Stephen Stubbs, please visit his website (https://stephenstubbs.com). 

Gilbert Blin, director

Gilbert Blin was awarded a Doctorate from Leiden University for a thesis dedicated to his approach to Historically Informed Staging. He has established himself as a sought-after opera director for the early repertoire, collaborating with the Paris Opéra-Comique, Prague State Opera, Drottningholm Theatre, Opéra de Nice, and Boston Early Music Festival, among others. As Stage Director in Residence at BEMF beginning in 2008, and as BEMF’s Opera Director since 2013, Blin has staged and designed all of its Festival centerpiece productions and staged every BEMF Chamber Opera Series production. These include a trilogy of English operas, Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Handel’s Acis and Galatea; Handel’s first opera, Almira; and Monteverdi’s three extant operas, Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea. In 2011, after staging Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe, he presented Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs. Blin returned to French chamber operas in 2016, creating Versailles: Portrait of a Royal Domain, a spectacle comprising pieces by Charpentier, Lully, and Lalande, and he staged additional French works in 2022. Other recent productions include Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice for Seattle, Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise, and Steffani’s Orlando generoso for Boston, and Caccini’s Alcina for New York. 

 To learn more about Gilbert Blin, please visit his website (https://gilbertblin.eu). 

Robert Mealy, BEMF orchestra director

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 in the U.S. and Europe, from Sequentia to Les Arts Florissants. He has led orchestras for Masaaki Suzuki, Nicholas McGegan, William Christie, Andrew Parrott, Paul Agnew, and Helmuth Rilling, among many others. Mealy is Orchestra Director of the Boston Early Music Festival. Since 2005 he has led the BEMF Orchestra in their festival performances and award-winning recordings. In New York, he is principal concertmaster at Trinity Wall Street for their concerts of the complete Bach cantatas. He is also co-director of the acclaimed 17th-century ensemble Quicksilver. In 2018, Mealy made his recital début at Carnegie Hall. A devoted teacher as well as a performer, Mealy has directed the graduate Historical Performance Program at The Juilliard School since 2012, and before that he taught at Yale and Harvard. In 2004, he received Early Music America’s Thomas Binkley Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship. He has recorded over 80 CDs on most major labels. He still likes to practice. 

Melinda Sullivan, dance director

Melinda Sullivan is the Lucy Graham Director of Dance at Boston Early Music Festival. She is a well-known movement and dance coach for singers. Her recently produced A Retrospective: The Story of the BEMF Dance Company is available on BEMF’s YouTube page. Sullivan danced in her first BEMF production in 1995. She returned to dance and assist the late choreographer Lucy Graham in all subsequent BEMF opera productions over the next twelve years. In 2008, Sullivan assumed the role of BEMF Ballet Mistress, training dancers and singers in Baroque and Renaissance style and technique. She has choreographed extensively for BEMF since 2010, including productions and revivals of Charpentier’s La Couronne de Fleurs and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, Monteverdi’s Orfeo, and Pergolesi’s La serva padrona and Livietta e Tracollo .A graduate of Boston Conservatory, Sullivan quickly established herself as a dynamic performer in Boston’s modern dance scene. Her studies in Renaissance dance led to performances with the Ken Pierce Baroque Dance Company. She created a unique movement and dance program for singers, and taught for 30 years, primarily at New England Conservatory and Boston University Opera Institute. Since 2008, Sullivan has also been Resident Choreographer at Central City Opera.  

To learn more about Melinda Sullivan, please visit her website (http://www.melindasullivan.com). 

Mireille Lebel, mezzo-soprano

Canadian mezzo-soprano Mireille Lebel sings leading lyric mezzo roles in opera and concert internationally. Now based in Berlin, she began her career as a young artist at the Atelier Lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal and from there moved to Germany to join the ensemble at Theater Erfurt. After finishing her contract, she became a freelance artist singing with theaters including Deutsche Oper, Opera Atelier, Prague State Opera, Tafelmusik, Theater Basel, Opéra-Théâtre de Metz, Opéra de Nice, Vancouver Opera, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Les Violons du Roy, Fondazione Pergolesi Spontini, Staatstheater Nürnberg, Theater Dessau, and Collegium 1704. She has recorded seven opera discs with the Boston Early Music Festival on the CPO label, including Grammy winner La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. Her discography also includes Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 with the Richter Ensemble, and the world premiere recording of Alois Broeder’s opera, The Wives of the Dead. In 2020, she co-founded with Rachel Fenlon the artistic collective Crown The Muse, and she was awarded a Canada Council Grant for their first collaboration, a new take on Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine, with stage director Bruno Ravella. 

To learn more about Mireille Lebel, please visit her website (https://www.mireillelebel.com). 

Colin Balzer, tenor

Tenor Colin Balzer has sung acclaimed recitals in London, New York, Philadelphia, and Vancouver, and concerts with the Portland, New Jersey, Québec, Atlanta, Montréal, and Indianapolis Symphonies, Early Music Vancouver, Tafelmusik, Les Violons du Roy, the National and Calgary Philharmonics, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Musica Sacra, and the Oratorio Society of New York. His opera performances with the Boston Early Music Festival include Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina, Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Handel’s Almira, Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe, Lully’s Psyché, and Mattheson’s Boris Goudenow. He has been featured in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Bolshoi and in Aix-en-Provence, and Mozart’s La finta giardiniera in Aix and Luxembourg. He has also appeared with Collegium Vocale Gent with Philippe Herreweghe, Fundacao OSESP Orchestra with Louis Langrée, Les Musiciens du Louvre with Marc Minkowski, Rotterdam Philharmonic with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Akademie für alte Musik with Marcus Creed. His recordings include Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch, and Eisler and Henze song anthologies; he has also recorded operas and the Steffani CD Duets of Love and Passion with BEMF. Balzer earned the Gold Medal at the Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau with the highest score in 25 years.  

Virginia Warnken Kelsey, mezzo-soprano

Hailed by the New York Times as a “rich-toned alto” with “riveting presence,” two-time Grammy Award–winning mezzo-soprano Virginia Warnken Kelsey has been widely recognized for her dynamic and heartfelt interpretations of 17th– and 18th-century opera and oratorio, as well as avant-garde 20th– and 21st-century works. Virginia is an original member of Roomful of Teeth, a celebrated experimental vocal ensemble dedicated to celebrating the boundless expressive potential of the human voice. She has appeared as a featured soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, BBC Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque, Boston Early Music Festival, Spoleto Festival, and the Carmel Bach Festival, among many others. Her performance as La Conversation in BEMF’s recording of Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles earned her a 2019 Grammy Award nomination in the Best Opera Recording category. A longtime resident of New York City, Virginia has made countless solo appearances with the American Classical Orchestra, Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Clarion Music Society, Tenet Vocal Artists, Musica Sacra, and the Oratorio Society of New York. Virginia is happiest when surrounded by nature and loves herb gardening, beekeeping, hiking, and swimming in the ocean. 

To learn more about Virginia Warnken Kelsey, please visit her website (https://www.virginiawarnken.com). 

Learn More About Boston Early Music Festival

Boston Early Music Festival Vocal Ensemble

The Boston Early Music Festival Vocal Ensemble débuted in November of 2008 in Boston with John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon. The ensemble is a collection of fine young singers dedicated to presenting choice operatic and other treasures as both soloists and members of the chorus, under the leadership of BEMF Artistic Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs. The BEMF Vocal and Chamber Ensemble’s début recording of Charpentier’s Actéon, on the CPO label, was released in November 2010. Subsequent CPO releases include Blow’s Venus and Adonis in June 2011, the Charpentier opera double bill of La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs in February 2014, which won the Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Opera Recording and the 2015 Echo Klassik Opera Recording of the Year (17th/18th Century Opera), Handel’s Acis and Galatea in November 2015, Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles andLes Arts Florissants, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2019, and Lalande’s Les Fontaines de Versailles and Le Concert d’Esculape in 2020. The BEMF Vocal Ensemble has mounted several successful tours of its chamber opera productions, including a four-city North American Tour of Acis and Galatea in early 2011 that included the American Handel Festival in Seattle. 

Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble

The Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble was established in October of 2008, and delighted the public a month later at the inauguration of the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series with a production of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actéon. The BEMF Chamber Ensemble is an intimate subset of the BEMF Orchestra, and is led by one or both of BEMF’s Artistic Directors, Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, or by BEMF’s Orchestra Director Robert Mealy, and features the best Baroque instrumentalists from around the world. The BEMF Chamber Ensemble’s third CD on the CPO label, the Charpentier opera double bill of La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs, won the Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Opera Recording. Their fifth CD, Steffani’s Duets of Love and Passion, featuring sopranos Amanda Forsythe and Emőke Baráth, tenor Colin Balzer, and baritone Christian Immler, was released in September 2017 in conjunction with a six-city tour of North America, and received a Diapason d’Or. The seventh CD, a return to Charpentier featuring Les Plaisirs de Versailles and Les Arts Florissants, was nominated for a Grammy in 2019, and the eighth, Lalande’s Les Fontaines de Versailles and Le Concert d’Esculape, was released in 2020. 

Boston Early Music Festival

The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) is universally recognized as a leader in the field of early music. Since its founding in 1980 by leading practitioners of historical performance in the United States and abroad, BEMF has promoted early music through a variety of diverse programs and activities. BEMF is currently producing its 33rd annual concert season, lauded for presenting early music’s brightest stars on the Boston and New York concert stages, and in June 2023 will hold its 22nd biennial weeklong Festival and Exhibition, hailed as “the world’s leading festival of early music” (The Times, London). Through these programs and more, BEMF has earned its place as North America’s premier presenting organization for music of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods and has secured Boston’s reputation as “America’s early music capital” (Boston Globe). BEMF regularly presents its own Baroque opera productions to great acclaim, from full-length centerpieces of its biennial Festivals to more intimate presentations during the year as part of its Chamber Opera Series. BEMF’s recordings of these operas have won the Grammy Award, the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, two Echo Klassik awards, the Diapason d’Or de l’Année, and many other accolades. BEMF also tours and presents operas and concerts featuring the BEMF Orchestra and the BEMF Chamber and Vocal Ensembles. 

To learn more about BEMF, please visit their website (bemf.org). 

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Caramoor is proud to be a grantee of ArtsWestchester with funding made possible by Westchester County government with the support of County Executive George Latimer.
All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.