“Arguably the most important and influential Early Music event in the world.” –BBC Radio 3
Cambridge, MA – The Boston Early Music Festival announces the full schedule for the 2023 Festival and Exhibition – A Celebration of Women – taking place from June 4 to June 11 in Boston, Massachusetts. The 22nd biennial Festival and Exhibition features the North American premiere of Henry Desmarest’s 1694 opera Circé featuring a libretto by Louise-Geneviève Gillot de Saintonge, a revival of Francesca Caccini’s Alcina from the BEMF Chamber Opera Series, seventeen concerts showcasing the finest artists in the field today, the world-famous Exhibition, and so much more. Subscription packages and individual tickets are available now from the BEMF Box Office at BEMF.org or 617-661-1812.
“I am thrilled to welcome Festival audiences back to Boston for our highly anticipated return to an in-person gathering,” says Executive Director Kathleen Fay. “Our Festival—A Celebration of Women—will be an inspiring week honoring the work of women musicians both living and departed, as well as poets, painters, librettists, actors, scholars, publishers, dedicatees, and patrons, in addition to administrators, directors, and theater technicians, reminding us that women have been an integral part of classical music all along!”
CENTERPIECE OPERA: DESMAREST’S CIRCÉAfter the divine sorceress Circé welcomes Ulisse and his weary companions to her island home, the forces of love, magic, and fate clash and threaten to ensnare them all. First performed in 1694 at the Paris Opera, Henry Desmarest’s Circé features a libretto by renowned poet Louise-Geneviève Gillot de Saintonge. Be captivated as this epic adventure from Homer’s Odyssey comes to life on stage with opulent, period-inspired costumes, elegant Baroque dance, breathtaking sets, and utterly gorgeous music. Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and Stage Director Gilbert Blin will lead this new production in four fully staged performances, June 4, 7, 9, and 11, 2023 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre (219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, USA). Ticket packages are available through the BEMF Box Office at 617-661-1812 or BEMF.org; individual tickets are available through the Box Office at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at EmersonTheatres.org or 617-824-8000.
The Boston Early Music Festival’s production of Circé is produced in partnership with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles. Rounding out the directorial team will be Orchestra Director Robert Mealy, Dance Director Melinda Sullivan, Choreographers Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière and Pierre-François Dollé, Set Designer Gilbert Blin, Costume Designer Jérôme Kaplan, Lighting Designer Kelly Martin, and Executive Producer Kathleen Fay. BEMF has assembled a truly outstanding cast of 20 singers, including many critically acclaimed favorites from past BEMF productions, with 3-time GRAMMY-nominated soprano Karina Gauvin in the title role, GRAMMY-winning tenor Aaron Sheehan as Ulisse, GRAMMY-nominees soprano Teresa Wakim as Astérie and baritone Jesse Blumberg as Elphénor, and BEMF favorites soprano Amanda Forsythe as Éolie and bass-baritone Douglas Williams as Polite. Joining them will be the 26-member Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra led by Concertmaster Robert Mealy, 10 Baroque dancers from the Boston Early Music Festival Dance Company under the direction of Melinda Sullivan, Dance Director, and 6 singers of the BEMF Young Artists Training Program under the leadership of Gilbert Blin, Founder & Director, Jason McStoots, Associate Director, 2023, and Jeffrey Grossman, Musical Director, 2023.
CHAMBER OPERA: Francesca Caccini’s AlcinaThe GRAMMY Award-winning Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Opera Series returns with an encore production of the first opera by a woman composer, Francesca 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. Adapted from Ludovico Ariosto’s 16th-century epic poem Orlando furioso, Alcina is a brilliant entertainment, full of wit, magic, and drama, with a demanding title role first sung by the composer herself. The sorceress Alcina stands at the center of a struggle between illusion and destiny as the valiant Melissa strives to save the warrior Ruggiero and liberate the captives Alcina has transformed into plants and trees to ornament her island.
This groundbreaking work is brought to life by the all-star BEMF Vocal and Chamber Ensembles in a magnificent production featuring gorgeous costumes and elegant period staging. Led by BEMF’s GRAMMY-winning Musical Directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs and Stage Director Gilbert Blin, the directorial team also features Orchestra Director Robert Mealy, Choreographer Melinda Sullivan, Costume Designer Anna Watkins, Lighting Designer Kelly Martin, and Executive Producer Kathleen Fay. The dynamic cast of 15 singers features many BEMF favorites, including the spellbinding Canadian mezzo-soprano Mireille Lebel as Alcina; tenor Colin Balzer, a frequent performer with BEMF’s Centerpiece Opera productions and recordings, as Ruggiero; and GRAMMY-winning mezzo-soprano Virginia Warnken Kelsey as Melissa. These superb vocalists appear alongside the twelve-member BEMF Chamber Ensemble. The performance will take place at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall on Saturday, June 10, 2023 at 8pm. Tickets are available now through the BEMF Box Office at BEMF.org or 617-661-1812.
BEMF in the BerkshiresA tradition for twenty years, BEMF follows its triumphant Festival week in Boston with a weekend of performances in the Berkshires at the splendid Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. The BEMF Chamber Opera Series will present two encore performances of Caccini’s Alcina on Friday, June 23, 2023 at 8pm and Saturday, June 24, 2023 at 3pm at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Tickets ($25–$85) are available now through the Boston Early Music Festival Box Office at BEMF.org or 617-661-1812 or from the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Box Office at mahaiwe.org or 413-528-0100. BEMF will also bring the production to the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts on Sunday, June 25, 2023 at 4pm. Tickets ($53–$135) are available at www.caramoor.org or 914-232-1252.
“If you are interested in early music, this is the place to be.”—The New York Times
FESTIVAL CONCERTSHailed as “Heaven… for early music fans” by The New York Times, the June 2023 Festival presents a series of seventeen concerts showcasing the most accomplished artists and ensembles in Early Music. With afternoon, evening, and late-night concerts, music lovers can enjoy an array of thrilling performances from some of the world’s most engaging artists.
The Festival Concert week opens with a grand celebration with the all-star BEMF Orchestra & Chorus on Monday, June 5, 2023 at 8pm. Enjoy a spectacular program of music written for the opera stage with the complete prologue to Desmarest’s Circé and selections from Handel’s first opera, Almira, led by GRAMMY-winners Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs. All week long, BEMF’s evening concerts will showcase some of Early Music’s most dynamic and acclaimed ensembles, including Vox Luminis performing Domenico Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater; the singers of The Orlando Consort presenting their beloved “Voices Appeared” program accompanying a showing of the 1928 silent-film masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc in the legendary ensemble’s final performance; an unprecedented collaboration between Vox Luminis and the BEMF Orchestra in music by Handel and Bach; and the breathtaking voices of Stile Antico exploring music by and for Renaissance women.
Many incredible performances will occur over 6 days of afternoon concerts. Debra Nagy leads her ensemble Les Délices in a program of the wild, passionate music portraying characters such as Circé, Phèdra, and Armide. Liza Malamut and The Newberry Consort return to BEMF with guest director Ellen Hargis for an exhilarating selection of music written for a 17th-century convent by Mexican composer Juan de Lienas. Director Denis Raisin Dadre leads Doulce Mémoire as they transport us to the court of the Duke of Ferrara and its “secret” concerts featuring incredibly talented young women who became renowned across Europe. The women of Tiburtina Ensemble with director Barbora Kabátková make their BEMF début performing magnificent music by Hildegard of Bingen. The always-engaging musicians of ACRONYM have assembled a “royal playlist” of music associated with the fiercely intelligent and independent Queen Christina of Sweden. Following a virtual début at BEMF’s 2021 Festival, Eric Bosgraaf, recorder, and Francesco Corti, harpsichord, make their in-person début in a program that pays tribute to Handel’s pupil, Princess Anne of Hanover.
The daily Festival Concert offerings conclude with a series of 6 late-night concerts at 10:30pm that keep the music going until close to midnight. Harpist Maxine Eilander and violinist Tekla Cunningham explore the music of the enigmatic and nearly forgotten French composer Zoé de la Rüe; Director Laury Gutiérrez leads La Donna Musicale and Rumbarroco in their BEMF début, performing songs and polyphonic settings that highlight Morenas—dark-skinned women—in the Ibero-American repertory; Sollazzo Ensemble and Director Anna Danilevskaia make their BEMF début in a program of music from a recently rediscovered 15th-century songbook; one of Early Music’s leading sopranos, Dorothee Mields, joins with German trio Hamburger Ratsmusik for their BEMF début in a program of music by Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi; acclaimed master of the viola da gamba Philippe Pierlot leads his Ricercar Consort in a program inspired by the house concerts given by Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and his two daughters; and finally, a thrilling, all-star event featuring three of the world’s most alluring divas, Amanda Forsythe, Dorothee Mields, and Cecilia Duarte, who join the BEMF Continuo Ensemble for an unforgettable evening of vocal fireworks.
In addition to the schedule of Festival Concerts, BEMF will offer an Organ & Keyboard Mini-Festival on Thursday, June 8, 2023 at The First Lutheran Church of Boston, with performances by four internationally celebrated virtuosos: Carole Cerasi on clavichord, Francesco Corti on harpsichord, Stefania Neonato on fortepiano, and Christa Rakich on the Richards, Fowkes & Co. Opus 10 organ at First Lutheran Church.
“One stop shopping for the…historical-performance set.”—The Wall Street Journal
EXHIBITION AND CONCURRENT EVENTSThe world-famous Exhibition, “one of the largest showcases for early instruments in the country” (The Boston Globe), is host to some of the top tradespeople from across the globe, with makers of period instruments, music publishers, dealers in rare books, prints, and manuscripts, and conservatories and schools of music. Returning to the Courtyard Marriott Boston Downtown at 275 Tremont Street, Boston, these specialists will be on hand Wednesday, June 7 through Saturday, June 10 to display their products and share information about their work with Festival attendees.
The one-of-a-kind BEMF CD Store returns for the 2023 Exhibition with hundreds of CDs from the field’s most distinguished labels all in one place. For the first time ever, the Centerpiece Opera—Desmarest’s Circé—will be available on a brand-new studio recording alongside the staged performances during the Festival. Also returning will be the Exhibition’s Family Day on Saturday, June 10 where children and parents alike can enjoy a scavenger hunt among the Exhibition’s instrument-makers as well as a class in Renaissance dances presented by BEMF Dance Company members Caitlin Klinger and Julian Donahue. Family Day admission is FREE for parents and children.
On Friday, June 9 at 2:30pm, BEMF will present a special performance at NEC’s Jordan Hall featuring the 6 singers and 4 instrumentalists of the BEMF Young Artists Training Program. This program, which is free and open to the public, will be an abridged performance of Cephale et Procris, a tragédie en musique by French composer Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre. The production will be semi-staged with period inspired costumes and led by the 2023 program’s Associate Director, Jason McStoots, and the 2023 program’s Musical Director Jeffrey Grossman.
On Sunday, June 11 at 10am at NEC’s Jordan Hall, BEMF Beyond Borders 2023 presents a free concert featuring a performance by the BEMF Youth Ensemble and short, filmed performances from international partners on four continents. The program, led by Nina Stern, BEMF Director of Community Engagement, will include traditional early 19th-century Brazilian music, works by Juan del Encina and Juan Ponce, and a new composition by Melika Fitzhugh commissioned for the BEMF Youth Ensemble.
Other concurrent events for the 2023 Festival include a free, outdoor concert where Cappella Clausura and director Amelia LeClair celebrate the Boston’s Women’s Memorial on the Commonwealth Mall; Performance Masterclasses by distinguished Festival musicians; Dance Workshops; Symposia and Lectures on a variety of topics, including Women at Work, which will feature over a dozen of the best women scholars discussing the place of women in this year’s Festival and in history; Pre-Opera and Pre-Concert Talks; and a remarkable array of Fringe Concerts throughout the Festival week. Festival Week Passes ($40) provide admission to the Exhibition, Symposia, Performance Masterclasses, and Dance Workshops for the entire week and may be purchased in advance. Festival Week Passes and Day Passes ($10) will be sold at the Exhibition and other concurrent events during the Week.
FESTIVAL TICKETS AND SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGESConcert tickets range from $25 to $70. Chamber Opera tickets range from $25 to $105, while Centerpiece Opera tickets range from $30 to $250. Tickets are available from the BEMF Box Office online at BEMF.org or by calling 617-661-1812. Subscription Packages of four or more concerts are also available with discounts up to 20% off. Individual tickets for the Centerpiece Opera are available through the Box Office at the Cutler Majestic Theatre at EmersonTheatres.org or 617-824-8000.
VIRTUAL FESTIVAL: A Celebration of Women – Encore!For fans unable to attend our in-person celebration, or those wishing to experience the Festival magic again, enjoy the exceptional talent of BEMF artists in the comfort of your own home with Encore! Our 2023 Virtual Festival showcases a specially curated selection of operas, concerts, and symposia recorded live at the June 2023 Festival and will also include two exclusive, remotely recorded Mini-Festival performances. Virtual Subscriptions and individual tickets will go on sale in July 2023.
RESOURCEShttp://bemf.org/press-tickets/Press Images: http://bemf.org/about-us/press-room/press-images/2023 Festival Press Ticket Policy:
ABOUT THE BOSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL:Recognized as the preeminent early music presenter and Baroque opera producer in North America, the Boston Early Music Festival 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 five 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 weeklong Festival and Exhibition recognized as the “world’s leading festival of early music” (The Times, London). The 22nd Boston Early Music Festival, A Celebration of Women, will take place from June 4 to 11, 2023, and will feature the North American premiere of Henry Demarest’s Circé. 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 Boston Early Music Festival is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Constellation Charitable Foundation, and WCRB Classical Radio Boston, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.