After La Cleopatra and The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles, Ars Minerva is very excited to bring back to life a third Italian opera. This opera will be La Circe, first performed in Vienna in 1665 for the birthday of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. Despite the beauty of the music, La Circe fell into oblivion and has never been performed since.
The La Circe manuscript, which resides at the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, is attributed to Pietro Andrea Ziani (1616-1684) with a libretto by Cristoforo Ivanovich (1620-1689). Ziani was the organist at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice; later in life, he served the Holy Roman Empress, Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg, in Vienna. Ivanovich was the first historian of Venetian opera, and was also a librettist for several operas performed in Venice, Vienna and Piacenza. He catalogued all opera performances held in Venice from 1637 until 1681 in his treatise Memorie teatrali di Venezia, published in 1680 as part of collection Minerva al Tavolino.
The plot of La Circe is inspired by the adventures of Circe, the goddess and magician of Greek mythology made famous in Homer’s Odyssey and in Ovid’s Metamorphosis. After Ulysses escapes Circe’s clutches, the outraged enchantress remains on her island with a number of unlucky captives who will fall victim to her resentment and manipulations. Dreadful potions, transformations, dancing Graces, Furies and other colorful agents of evil — alongside carnivalesque comic scenes—will bring drama to this gorgeous piece featuring laments, rage arias and drinking tunes.
The opera, sung in Italian with English supertitles, will be semi-staged by Céline Ricci and presented on September 8th & 9th 2017, at the ODC Theater in San Francisco. It will feature eight singers, an acrobat, as well as a small orchestra of five instrumentalists led by Derek Tam.
Magic Flutes and Enchanted Forests, by David J Buch.
"The representation of superhuman power in opera owes much to Renaissance court festivities and intermedi, where magic and divinity were associated with the aristocratic patrons who sponsored them. Archetypal characters from mythology most often represented these forces, along with the magician, a character found in biblical, classical, medieval, and Renaissance sources. The magician possessed powers that were symbolic of the superhuman power of the prince, and spectacular magic is a frequent allegorical and political symbol in Renaissance festivities.
The most popular supernatural subjects in 17th century Italian opera include Orpheus, the sorceresses Medea and Circe, Hercules, and Ulysses. A variety of librettos have oracle scenes. Incantation episodes, favored in La commedia dell'arte, were also common in Italian opera, along with magic sleep scenes, as well as appearances of ghosts."
Circe - Céline Ricci Conductor/Harpsichord - Derek Tam Opera semi-staged by Céline Ricci
Glauco - Kyle Stegall Cello - Gretchen Claassen Projections Design - Patricia Nardi
Andromaca - Kindra Scharich Theorbo - Adam Cockerham Lights - Michael Davis
Pirro - Billy Sauerland Violin I - Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo English Translation - Joe McClinton
Egle - Jasmine Johnson Violin II - Nathalie Carducci
Scilla - Aurélie Veruni Viola - Addi Liu
Gligorio - Jonathan Smucker
Custode del porto/Tissandro/Creonte - Igor Vieira
Acrobat - Katherine Hutchinson