Cavalli opera reprised for Ohio, N.Y. audiences

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University and the Eastman School of Music's Collegium Musicum are presenting what may be the first full staging in North America of Francesco Cavalli's “La virtù de' strali d'Amore.”

The opera will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 3, in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center on the Bowling Green campus. The opera will then travel to Rochester, N.Y. for a performance on Friday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall at Eastman.

The production is an artistic collaboration engaging the talents of faculty and students from Bowling Green's College of Musical Arts and Department of Theatre and Film, together with faculty and students from the Eastman's Collegium Musicum. This is the second time the two universities have collaborated on a Cavalli project; the first was the 2005 North American premiere of “Gli amori d'Apollo e di Dafne.”  

“Le virtù de' strali d'Amore” was written in 1642 for one of Venice's first public opera houses, the Teatro di San Cassiano. Translated as “The Power of Love's Arrows,” the Baroque opera transports the audience to a colorful, magical land where peasants and nobles, gods and mortals feel the flames of love when pricked by Amore's capricious arrows. Characters and themes in the libretto can also be interpreted as reflections on Venetian society.

During his lifetime, Cavalli was considered one of the most famous composers for the operatic stage. He composed 28 operas in a 30-year career during a time now labeled by musicologists as the era of “drama per musica” (1637–c.1680), a time when composers worked to find musical and theatrical forms now commonplace in opera.

Giovanni Faustini's libretto for “La virtù de' strali d'Amore” was his first operatic collaboration with Cavalli. The two would go on to collaborate on eight additional operas.

For this staging, the opera libretto was translated by James M. Pfundstein (cq), coordinator of the Great Ideas Program and a faculty member in romance and classical studies at BGSU. Dr. Vincent Corrigan, a BGSU professor of musicology, created the transcription and a modern edition of the archival score.

The opera is staged by Dr. Ronald E. Shields, a professor and chair of the BGSU Department of Theatre and Film, with choreography by associate professor Dr. Michael Ellison, also a faculty member in that department.

Other Bowling Green staff and theatre faculty designed the production. Steve Boone, an assistant professor of theatre, created the set design; Margaret McCubbin, an associate professor of theatre, designed the costumes, and Keith Hofacker, technical director in the College of Musical Arts, served as lighting designer. Kevin Bylsma, an instructor of music performance studies, provided the musical and language preparation.

Guest music director and conductor Paul O'Dette, an associate professor of conducting and ensembles at Eastman, will conduct the orchestra, comprised of members of the Eastman Collegium Musicum.

Cast members and dancers featured in the opera are all students at Bowling Green.

Appearing as Amore, the keeper of love's arrows, is Megan Bell, a second-year graduate student majoring in vocal performance from Columbus. Second-year graduate student in vocal performance Sara Emerson of Traverse City, Mich., will perform the role of the princess Cleria, and the knight who is in love with Cleria is portrayed by senior vocal performance major Blaine Heeter III of Brookville.

Erabena, a young maiden disguised as the male servant Eumete, will be performed by first-year graduate vocal performance student Katherine Liesner of Massillon.

Marcus Bedinger, a sophomore music education and performance major from Trotwood, will perform the role of Meonte, a pirate and Erabena's former lover, while second-year graduate vocal performance student Marlayna Maynard of Dunlow, W.Va., will portray Venere, the goddess Venus.

BGSU music faculty members Kelly Anderson and Geoffrey Stephenson, both instructors in music performance studies, will portray the King, Evagora, and Giove, Ruler of the Gods, respectively.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and students.

For more information, call 419-372-8171 or 1-800-589-2224, or on the Web, visit http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/music/events/opera.html.

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(Posted October 22, 2007 )