Saturday, June 13, 2009

Les Arts Flo and Poppea

Here's a bust of the real Poppea -- enough to banish your empress forever? That's what Nero thought...but then they both came to rather bad ends. Monteverdi's public didn't seem to mind, and neither did the audience here in Boston last night, who ate up this naughty historical tale in a beautiful period production by Gilbert Blin. Gillian Keith is wonderful in the title role, and Steve Stubbs and Paul O'Dette have worked their usual magic with both orchestra and cast. Other standouts were Laura Pudwell (Arnalta) and Stephanie Houtzeel (Ottavia), who commanded the stage with great aplomb, and Zachary Wilder (Nutrice), whose crotchety old lady act is hilarious.

Yesterday afternoon I caught the Oberlin production of Charpentier's "Les Arts Florissants," one of the many the BEMF "Fringe" events. It was great to see this group of talented undergraduates convey a real sense of style in their singing, playing, and even Baroque dancing! Their lovely performance of this brief piece left us all wanting more -- something which doesn't happen often enough in this business!

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