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Helen, thy beauty is to me….

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Helen of Troy by Rossetti

Odyssey Opera continues its sixth season next month at the Huntington Theater with the Boston premiere of Gluck’s (1770) Paride ed Elena to Ranieri de’ Calzabigi’s libretto. This marks the first of three works to be performed in Winter/Spring 2019 inspired by one of the most enigmatic figures in ancient history, Helen of Troy. The company tells us that Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen) will feature three leading female roles performed by Mireille Asselin (Elena), Meghan Lindsay (Paride), and Erica Schuller (Amor), with orchestra and chorus conducted by Gil Rose, and stage direction by Crystal Manich (Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera).  The fully-staged, five-act production will be sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Paride ed Elena was the third and last of the so-called “reform” operas on which Gluck collaborated with the librettist Ranieri de’ Calzabigi. According to Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera’s Artistic and General Director, “Paride ed Elena is yet another operatic gem that has disappeared from the canon. The ‘why’ remains a mystery as this opera has something for everyone: a passionate love story, glorious orchestral textures, sensual ballets, and the sumptuous melodies that we’ve come to expect from Gluck’s masterful vocal writing. Odyssey Opera is thrilled to revive this neglected work and introduce it to Boston audiences.”

Helen of Troy, a woman so beautiful that she impelled nations into a war, has fascinated writers and composers for centuries. Gluck’s Paride ed Elena loosely recounts a part of the Greek myth  when Paris and Helen first met and fell in love in Sparta. The third main character, Cupid, is instrumental in persuading Helen to choose love over duty. The opera ends as the lovers plan their elopement to Troy which ultimately resulted in The Trojan War.

The three leading roles will be performed by women making their Odyssey Opera debuts. Soprano Mireille Asselin (Elena) celebrates her fifth season at the Metropolitan Opera. She made waves in 2015 by jumping in as Adele for opening night of Die Fledermaus at the Met. Critics raved that she “stole the show” hailing it as one of New York’s “most enchanting performances of 2015”. Canadian soprano Meghan Lindsay (Paride) is hailed by critics as a singer with “lovely stage presence,” a “silvery tone,” and “exquisite mezza voce”. For the past eight seasons, she has been a member of Canada’s premier period music company, Opera Atelier. Chicago-based soprano Erica Schuller (Amor) is praised for her “lively personality, abundant charm, and luscious vocalism” and “crystalline voice”. Recent projects of note include performances with Apollo’s Fire, The Boston Early Music Festival, Ars Lyrica Houston, New Trinity Baroque Orchestra, Great Lakes Baroque and The Lincoln Trio.

Described by The New York Times as “bold…intriguing”, Odyssey Opera’s 2018-19 season is a two-part journey. The first memorialized the 200th anniversary of Charles Gounod’s birth (as well as the 125th death anniversary) with La reine de saba (September 22, 2018) and Le médecin malgré lui (November 9 + 11, 2018). The second in Winter/Spring 2019 is inspired by the iconic figure, Helen of Troy: a fully staged production of Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen) by Christoph Willibald Gluck (February 15 + 17, 2019); a concert performance of Die ägyptische Helena (The Egyptian Helen) by Richard Strauss (April 19, 2019); and a season-ending, fully staged production of the hilarious La belle Hélène (The Beautiful Helen) by Jacques Offenbach (June 14 + 16, 2019).

About Odyssey Opera       
Founded in 2013 by artistic director/conductor Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera presents adventurous and eclectic works that affirm opera as a powerful expression of the human experience. Its world-class artists perform the operatic repertoire from its historic beginnings through lesser-known masterpieces to contemporary new works and commissions in varied formats and venues. Odyssey Opera sets standards of high musical and theatrical excellence and innovative programming to advance the operatic genre beyond the familiar and into undiscovered territory. Odyssey Opera takes its audience on a journey to places they’ve never been before. odysseyopera.org

Mirielle Asselin to essay Elena

Gluck: Paride ed Elena

Friday, February 15, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 17, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.
Huntington Avenue Theater
Tickets: $25 and Up. To purchase, visit odysseyopera.org

Elena: Mireille Asselin (soprano)
Paride: Meghan Lindsay (soprano)

Amor: Erica Schuller (soprano)

Conductor: Gil Rose
Director: Crystal Manich
Odyssey Opera Orchestra and Chorus

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