The Eastman School of Music and Bowling Green State University will present the first production in modern times of Francesco Cavalli’s 1642 La virtù de’ strali d’Amore, a groundbreaking and highly entertaining early opera. The work will be performed in Rochester on Nov. 9, shortly after its North American premiere in Ohio.
Translated as “The Power of Love’s Arrows,” the work introduced plot devices such as disguises,the reunion of long-lost siblings, and love triangles-themes that became ubiquitous in classical opera. But La virtù de’ strali d’Amore also reflects the operas of its time, placing comedy and tragedy side-by-side to heighten dramatic intensity and provide variety, much as Shakespeare did in his tragedies.
La virtù de’ strali d’Amore will be performed by student singers from Bowling Green Opera Theatre with instrumentalists from the Eastman School’s Collegium Musicum, an ensemble which performs Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments. The opera will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, in Kilbourn Hall. There will be a pre-opera lecture by Paul O’Dette, professor of lute at Eastman and musical director for the production, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 120 of the Eastman School of Music. Tickets are $10 and are available in advance at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone (585) 454-2100; or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts. University of Rochester ID holders are admitted free.
In addition, a symposium with a panel of internationally known Cavalli experts will be held the day after the production, at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, in the Ciminelli Lounge in the Eastman Commons Student Living Center.
Produced in Venice in 1642, La virtù de’ strali d’Amore was the first of eight artistic collaborations by composer Francesco Cavalli and librettist Giovanni Faustini. Portions of the score were presented in concert form in Europe a few years ago, but the work has not been staged since a revival in Bologna in 1648.
“ La virtù de’ strali d’Amore has not even been studied in detail by scholars until now, so our production represents an introduction to the work for specialists and the general public alike,” notes O’Dette. “This presentation is an exciting opportunity for the performers to bring to life, and for the audience to enjoy, an outstanding operatic work which is both accessible and compelling.”
The production is the second collaboration between Eastman School of Music and Bowling Green State University. O’Dette and Ronald Shields, chair of Bowling Green’s Department of Theatre and Film and stage director for La virtù de’ strali d’Amore, had the same roles in producing Cavalli’s Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne in 2005. La virtù de’ strali d’Amore is being presented in Bowling Green on Nov. 1 and 3 before coming to Rochester.
O’Dette is an internationally respected performer and scholar of Renaissance and Baroque music and director of Collegium Musicum. To prepare for this production, he traveled to Bowling Green to coach the singers, while playing the role of vocalist in local rehearsals, singing all of the roles to familiarize the instrumentalists with the character, pacing, and timing of each passage.
La virtù de’ strali d’Amore will be sung in Italian; supertitles will allow the audience to follow the action. Some cuts were made to shorten the four-hour original work to three hours, O’Dette explains, but no musical numbers have been eliminated, only additional verses of strophic arias and passages of recitative containing obscure mythological references which were included to appeal to 17th century audiences.
Scholars presenting papers at the symposium on Saturday include Wendy Heller of Princeton University; Elizabeth Glixon and Jonathan Glixon of the University of Kentucky; and Hendrik Schulze of the University of Heidelberg. In addition, O’Dette and Shields will discuss the research and preparation necessary for producing a work such a La virtù de’ strali d’Amore. This event is offered in coordination with the Central New York Humanities Corridor, involving the University of Rochester, Syracuse University and Cornell University, and is made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; it is sponsored by the Department of Musicology and the Early Music Advisory Committee at Eastman.
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Friday, Nov. 9
La virtù de’ strali d’Amore (“The Strength of Love’s Arrows”), production of a 17th century opera by Franceso Cavalli presented by Bowling Green State University Opera Theatre in collaboration with the Eastman Early Music Program
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.
General admission: $10 (University of Rochester ID holders admitted free); tickets at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone (585) 454-2100; or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts.
Information number: (585) 274-1110
Saturday, Nov. 10
Symposium on Cavalli’s La virtù de’ strali d’Amore, with Paul O’Dette of Eastman School of Music; Ronald Shields of Bowling Green State University; Wendy Heller of Princeton University; Elizabeth Glixon and Jonathan Glixon of the University of Kentucky; Hendrik Schulze of the University of Heidelberg
Ciminelli Lounge, Eastman Commons Student Living Center, 100 Gibbs St.
Free and open to the public
Information number: (585) 274-1110