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Astianatte, 1724, modern premiere by Ars Minerva in October 2022


Composed by Leonardo Vinci, libretto by Francesco Antonio Salvi

The Plot: A dark tale of post-Iliad trauma, vengeance, sexual havoc and threatened infanticide, composed by one of the early 18th century’s most brilliant and under-recognized operatic masters. Similar material inspired such milestones as Euripides’ Andromache, Racine’s Andromaque, and Rossini’s Ermione.

Troy has fallen. Andromache, widow of the Trojan hero Hector, is the prisoner of Achilles’ son Pyrrhus, king of Epirus. Pyrrhus has fallen desperately in love with his captive and now shuns his fiancée, Hermione. Andromache is revolted at the idea of marrying the son of her husband’s killer; meanwhile, Hermione is by no means willing to be spurned without a fight. Orestes arrives, bearing an ultimatum for Pyrrhus: Kill Andromache’s and Hector’s young son Astyanax (Astianatte), or face war with Greece. Not incidentally, Orestes would also be delighted to rekindle his relationship with the jilted Hermione.

Messalina, 1679, American modern premiere by Ars Minerva in November 2021
Composed by Carlo Pallavicino, libretto by Francesco Maria Piccioli

Cast and crew


CAST: Jasmine Johnson (Andromaca), Deborah Rosengaus (Pirro), Nikola Printz (Oreste), Aura Veruni (Ermione), Jayne Diliberto (Clearte), Daphne Touchais (Pilade), Anthony Polakoff (Astianatte)

ORCHESTRA: Conductor: Matthew Dirst, Concertmaster: Cynthia Black, Cello: Gretchen Claassen, Theorbo: Richard Savino, Violone: Steve Lehning.


CREATIVE TEAM: Director: Céline Ricci, Score Transcription: Adam Cockerham, Translation: Joe McClinton) Costume Designer: Marina Polakoff, Backdrop Projections: Entropy, Light Designer: Del Medoff, Make up Designer:Daniel Cartagena, Stage Manager: Saskia Lee


The Plot: A sex farce with teeth. Clever, lecherous Messalina turns the tables several times on the gullible Emperor Claudius, who is hardly innocent himself. Meanwhile two other couples suffer their own romantic vicissitudes. Furtive assignations, frustrated trysts, kidnappings, betrayals, sudden recognitions, a heroine and a hero both in drag, and a plot as convoluted as only 17th-century Venetian opera can put together, all lead to a reconciliation that will last only as long as Messalina can keep pulling the wool over Claudius’ eyes. 


Cast and crew


CAST: Empress  Aura Veruni (Messalina), Deborah Rosengaus (Emperor Claudio), Kevin Gino (Tullio), Shawnette Sulker (Floralba), Kindra Scharich (Erginda/Alindo), Patrick Hagen (Caio), Zachary Gordin (Tergisto), Marcus J Paige (Lismeno)

ORCHESTRA: Conductor: Jory Vinikour,1st Violin: Cynthia Black, 2nd Violin: Laura Jeannin, Viola: Aaron Westman, Cello: Gretchen Claassen, Theorbo: Adam Cockerham


CREATIVE TEAM: Director: Céline Ricci, Costume Designer: Marina Polakoff, Backdrop Projections: Entropy, Light Designer: Thomas Bowersox, Make up Designer: Joanne Kay, Stage Manager: Sarah Terman



San Francisco Classical Voice "Ars Minerva’s Messalina was steamy, tuneful, and above all imaginative" 

 San Francisco Chronicle "The importance of [Ars Minerva's] ongoing project — sampling and reviving a huge unknown body of artistic work." 

The Rehearsal Studio "Thus, between the wealth of physical comedy of dalliance and Pallavicino’s abundance of engaging music, the duration of the entire program proceeded at a spirited clip, resulting in an audience leaving the ODC Theater in high spirits." 

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Designed by Entropy

Ermelinda, 1680, modern premiere by Ars Minerva in November 2019
Composed by Domenico Freschi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piccioli

The plot, which unfolds in Phoenicia, features two young lovers Ermelinda and Ormindo, a tyrannical father and two trouble makers. Ermelinda is not allowed to love Ormindo and will have to endure the stratagems and machinations fabricated by the other characters who want to split them. From mad scenes to fake deaths, every ruse and artifice will be used to make mischief. Will Ermelinda's determination and cleverness outsmart her enemies?

Cast and crew


CAST:  Nika Printz (Ermelinda), Kindra Scharich (Rosaura), Clorindo/Ormondo (Sara Couden), Justin Montigne (Aristeo), Deborah Rosengaus (Armidoro).

ORCHESTRA: Jory Vinikour (harpsichord, (conductor), Adam Cockerham (theorbo), Gretchen Claassen (cello). Strings: Cynthia Black, Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo, Aaron Westman.

CREATIVE TEAM: Céline Ricci (stage-director), Entropy (projection design), Thomas Bowersox (lighting design), Matthew Nash (costume designer), Teaghan Rohan (make-up), Joe McClinton (translation), Elisabeth Reeves (stage manager), Paul Miller (program notes).


Designed by Ryan Ferriera

Ifigenia in Aulide, 1738, modern premiere by Ars Minerva inNovember/December 2018

Composed by Giovanni Porta, libretto by Apostolo Zeno

The Greek army, ready to battle against Troy under the command of King Agamemnon, was detained by contrary winds in the port of Aulis. The King appealed to the Oracle and the response was clear: it would not be possible to sail to Troy, without first placating the wrath of the Goddess Diana with a death. The death and sacrifice of Iphigenia, daughter of the King.

Cast and crew


CAST:  Aura Veruni (Ifigenia), Nika Printz (Agamennone), Shawnette Sulker (Clitennestra), Céline Ricci (Achille), Cara Gabrielson (Elisena), Kevin Gino (Ulisse), Matheus Coura (Teucro), Spencer Dodd (Arcade)

ORCHESTRA: Derek Tam (harpsichord, (conductor), Cynthia Black (concertmaster) Paul Psarras (theorbo), Gretchen Claassen (cello). Strings: Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo, Anna Washburn, Toma Iliev, Tyler Lewis, Aaron Westman, Erik Andersen.

CREATIVE TEAM: Céline Ricci (stage-director), Nicole Spencer Carrera (projection design), Jack Beuttler (lighting design), Matthew Nash (costume designer), Joe McClinton (translation), Elisabeth Reeves (stage manager), Paul Miller (program notes).


Designed by Nicole Spencer Carrera

La Circe, 1665, modern premiere by Ars Minerva in September 2017

Attributed to Pietro Andrea Ziani, libretto by Cristoforo Ivanovich

The plot of La Circe was inspired by the adventures of Circe, the goddess and magician of Greek mythology made famous in Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid's Metamorphoses. 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.

Cast and crew


CAST: Céline Ricci (Circe), Kindra Scharich (Andromaca), Kyle Stegall (Glauco), Ryan Belongie (Pirro), Aurélie Veruni (Scylla), Jasmine Johnson (Egle), Jonathan Smucker (Gligoro), Igor Vieira (Custode/Tissandro/Creonte), Katherine Hutchinson (aerial dancer)

ORCHESTRA: Derek Tam (harpsichord, conductor), Adam Cockerham (theorbo), Gretchen Claassen (cello), Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo (violin I), Nathalie Carducci (violin II), Addi Liu (viola) 

CREATIVE TEAM: Céline Ricci (staging, concept), Katherine Hutchinson (choreography), Patricia Nardi (projection design), Maximilian Urruzmendi and Saskia Lee (lighting design), Matthew Nash and Lindsi Bristow (costumes), Joe McClinton (translation), Paul Miller (program notes), Saskia Lee (stage manager)



The Berkeley Daily Planet: "La Circe turned out to be a wonderful, thoroughly engaging opera, both musically and dramatically."


The Opera Tattler: "The breadth of Bay Area musical talent was on full display here and the diversity of sound was impressive."

The Reverberate Hills: "Outstanding and delightful... a useful reminder of the operatic riches that remain yet uncovered beyond the constant revivals of Traviata and Bohème."

The Rehearsal Studio: "Delightful Holy Roman Entertainment from Ars Minerva"

Civic Center: "Once again... a musical and stylistic triumph."

Designed by Patricia Nardi

The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles, 1679, modern premiere by Ars Minerva in May 2016

Composed by Carlo Pallavicino, libretto by C.M. Piccioli

Long lost in the archives of Venice’s Biblioteca Marciana, Pallavicino's opera takes place in the legendary Fortunates Isles located in the Atlantic Ocean, a winterless earthly paradise inhabited by the heroes of Greek mythology. After their defeat by the Greeks at the battle of Thermodon, the Amazons migrated to the Fortunates Isles. One day, a Moorish corsair is shipwrecked on the shore… and everything changes.

Cast and crew

PROLOGUE CAST: Tonia d'Amelio (Il Genio), Molly Mahoney (La Difficoltà), Spencer Dodd (Il Timore)


OPERA CAST: Aurélie Veruni (Pulcheria), Kindra Scharich (Florinda), Ryan Matos (Numidio), Tonia d'Amelio (Auralba), Cara Gabrielson (Jocasta), Molly Mahoney (Cillene), Spencer Dodd (Sultan), Casey Lee Thorne (dancer), Coral Martin (dancer)

ORCHESTRA: Derek Tam (harpsichord, conductor), Adam Cockerham (theorbo), Gretchen Claassen (cello), Addi Liu (violin I), Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo (violin II), Henry Reed (timpani), Amanda Cienfuegos (trumpet), Jose Sanchez (trumpet)

CREATIVE TEAM: Céline Ricci (staging), Muriel Maffre (choreography), Patricia Nardi (projection design),

Brian Poedy (lighting design), Metamorphosis Salon (hair and makeup), Joe McClinton (translation), Paul Miller (program notes)



Opera Today: “The Amazons Enchant San Francisco"

San Francisco Classical Voice: "The staging and fine singing made for a vibrantly entertaining performance."

San Francisco Early Music Society: "A Conversation with Ars Minerva’s Céline Ricci"

L'Italo-Americano: "'The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles' - A Preview"

San Francisco Classical Voice: "Ars Minerva Discovers Lusty Amazons Opera"

Designed by Patricia Nardi

La Cleopatra, 1662, modern premiere by Ars Minerva in March 2015

Composed by Daniele da Castrovillari, libretto by Giacomo dall'Angelo

Daniele da Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra – lost in the archives of Venice’s Biblioteca Marciana since its premiere in 1662 – bears the name of the femme fatale whose legend has been recounted by everyone from Plutarch to Burton and Taylor. But those who anticipate yet another version of that famed tragedy should brace themselves for a hefty dose of the unexpected. Castrovillari and his librettist Giacomo dall’Angelo conjure up a lively salmagundi of romance, jealousy, skullduggery, sensuality, comedy, political catastrophe and attempted murder, climaxing in a surprise ending that is entirely in the spirit of Carnevale. 

Cast and crew

CAST: Céline Ricci (Cleopatra)Randall Scotting (Marc Antonio), Nell Snaidas (Ottavia), Jennifer Ellis Kampani (Coriaspe), Molly Mahoney (Arsinoe), Michael Desnoyers (Filenia), Igor Vieira (Clisterno), Spencer Dodd (Dolabella/Arante), Anders Frohelich (Augusto), James Hogan (Domitio)

ORCHESTRADerek Tam (harpsichord, conductor), Adam Cockerham (theorbo), Gretchen Claassen (cello), Natalie Carducci (violin I), Laura Rubinstein-Salzedo (violin II)

CREATIVE TEAMCéline Ricci (staging), Matthew Holmes (video design), Kellie Chambers (assistant video design), Brian Poedy (lighting design), Joe McClinton (translation), Paul Miller (program notes)


Opera Today: “It is thanks to Céline Ricci, mezzo-soprano and director of Ars Minerva, that we have been able to again hear Daniele Castrovillari’s exquisite melodies because she is the musician who has brought his 1662 opera La Cleopatra to life."

The Berkeley Daily Planet: "This revival of Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra was a rare treat for San Francisco audiences."

The Iron Tongue of Midnight: "And getting to the heart of the matter: the music is extremely beautiful, in that austere, 17th c. Italian style. If you've heard any of the Monteverdi operas, well, you have some familiarity with what La Cleopatra sounds like. I counted three separate rage arias, which might be some kind of record, not to mention love duets, quite a bit of hilarious flirtiness from the nurse, and a gorgeous lament from Cleopatra."

Designed by Patricia Nardi
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