Opera lovers will have a rare treat in November when BGSU presents the North American premiere of Francesco Cavalli’s opera, “Gli Amori d’Apollo e di Dafne (The Many Loves of Apollo and Daphne).”
In a collaboration with the Eastman School of Music and multiple divisions within BGSU, the College of Musical Arts will stage this long-neglected Baroque opera in a contemporary setting. Also planned are two follow-up events exploring the historical, musical and literary background of the opera.
Performances of “Apollo e Dafne” will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 11 and 3 p.m. Nov. 13 in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center.
Tickets, at $8 for students and senior citizens and $10 for other adults, can be reserved by calling the Kobacker box office at 2-8171 or the Department of Theatre and Film box office at 2-2719.
The opera will be sung by students and faculty of BGSU Opera Theater. Singing the role of Daphne will be mezzo-soprano Ellen Gartner, a junior from Findlay majoring in music education. Apollo will be sung by tenor Gregory Ashe, a senior music-education major from Huber Heights.
Special guest Paul O’Dette, director of Early Music at Eastman and of its Collegium Musicum, will provide musical direction. Considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on Baroque music, O’Dette is a master of the lute whose playing has helped set the standards for 21st-century musicians. The Eastman Collegium Musicum will perform the continuo sections of the opera, with O’Dette on lute from the orchestra pit.
Dr. Emily Freeman Brown, director of orchestral activities and music director of opera theater at Bowling Green, has worked with O’Dette to prepare the opera, along with Kevin Bylsma, musical arts, who coached the singers.
“Apollo e Dafne” represents the second time BGSU has chosen a Baroque work for its annual opera presentation, having performed Cavalli’s “Ormindo” in 1984. “This gives our opera students more breadth than ever before,” said Dr. Richard Kennell, dean of the music college.
Originally set in 17th-century Venice, the libretto by Giovanni Busenello is based on the Greek myth in which, hit by Amore’s avenging arrows, Apollo pursues the virtuous Daphne. Her ultimate transformation into a tree is Daphne’s only means of escape from his unbridled passion. Busenello used the tale of gods and mortals to comment on the role of women and gender politics in Venetian society, and Bowling Green’s staging sets Daphne in a World War I hospital where she dreams of freedom and escape from confinement.
In the most far-reaching collaboration on campus to date, the music college and BGSU Opera Theater are partnering on the production with theatre and film, romance languages, the School of Art and the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies’ dance program.
Dr. Vincent Corrigan, musicology/composition/theory, transcribed and edited the score from a facsimile of the archival document, and provided the final orchestrations.
The libretto was translated into English by Dr. James Pfundstein, romance languages, a classicist with interests in theater and mythology. This is the first time the libretto has been translated into English. His translation will appear as supertitles.
Choreography was provided by Tammy Metz Starr, University Dance Program. Costumes are by Margaret McCubbin, theatre and film; Bradford Clark, also theatre and film, is stage design consultant, and lighting design for the opera is by Keith Hofacker, technical director for the Moore Musical Arts Center.
The project has entailed a “musicological study and scholarly excavation of the opera,” according to Dr. Ronald Shields, chair of theatre and film. Shields first explored the possibility of staging a Baroque opera during a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar-in-residency at Princeton University during the summer of 2004.
The selection of this particular Cavalli opera was prompted by Corrigan’s discovery of a photo-facsimile of the archival score in the BGSU library collection. The range of scholarly expertise and artistry needed to produce the work and the rich theatrical and musical elements in the score prompted the expansion of the project to include BGSU faculty from across campus and, ultimately, the participation of O’Dette and his students from Eastman.
On Nov. 14, two events will provide a scholarly look at the opera and its BGSU production. Dr. Wendy Heller, an associate professor of music at Princeton, will be the speaker for “Transforming Ovid: Love, Desire and Metamorphosis in Cavalli’s Gli Amori d’Apollo e di Dafne.” The Arts and Sciences Lecture will be held at 12:30 p.m. in 308 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Coffee and dessert will be served.
Heller has written a book, Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in 17th-Century Venice , for which she received the book award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. Among her many fellowships is the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.
At 9 a.m. Nov. 14 in 207 Union, Heller will participate in a Cavalli Roundtable along with O’Dette; Dr. Massimo Ossi, chair of the Department of Musicology at Indiana University and a well-known scholar on 17th-century music; Dr. Mary Doyle, PlayTALKS speaker at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and BGSU faculty and staff. They will discuss the status of staging Baroque opera today and the BGSU production of “Apollo e Dafne,” and share insights into the score and libretto. A continental breakfast will be served.
Both events are free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Contact Joyce Arreguin at
2-2017 or email@example.com by Nov. 9.