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Thursday, March 11, 2010

BAM Opera Festival Focuses on Purcell

Baroque opera is making a comeback in New York City in the Spring of 2010.

William Christie conducts Purcell's music at BAM.

On March 18, the Brooklyn Academy of Music places the work of Henry Purcell at the center of its BAM Opera Festival. Purcell was an English composer whose work predates that of the more popular Georg Friedrich Handel.

The acclaimed baroque performing ensemble Les Arts Florissants will perform Dido and Aeneas in conjuntion with Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Actéon. These two short operas will contrast the 17th century style of Purcell with that of Charpentier, and demonstrate how the elder composer influenced the latter work. Both performances will be led by Les Arts Florissants music director William Christie.

On the 23rd, BAM will present Purcell's The Fairy Queen, also presented by Les Arts Florissants in conjunction with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream the opera is a major example of Purcell's genis which was lost for over 300 years before being rediscovered by members of the Purcell society in 1901. These are the first New York performances of a special edition, premiered at Glyndebourne in 2009 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Purcell's birth.

Finally, New York City Opera continues its tradition of baroque opera performance with a revival of their production of Handel's Partenope, originally staged at the Glimmerglass Opera in 1999. Partenope features some of Handel's finest vocal writing. It opens on April 3.

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