The company Ars Minerva, which specializes in staging operas that would otherwise be lost to history, is bringing another production to life this weekend at ODC Theatre. Domenico Freschi’s Ermelinda was written and performed during the 1680s, and not again until now. Artistic director Céline Ricci and harpsichordist and conductor Jory Vinikour give a preview of the story of an impish girl with a tyrannical father.
There’s more information at the Ars Minerva website.
“This is the story of a girl, a very impish girl, who has a tyrannical father, who doesn’t want her to love who she wants, and be who she wants,” Ricci says. “So she has to be a rebel, and confront her father, and also people who are friends with her father. She has a lover who is looking for her everywhere. He will finally find her, where her father has brought her to hide her from life.” It’s a light comedy, which Ricci wanted to do this year for contrast. “Ermalinda was part of the operas that I was interested in, so it’s about five years that it’s been in my files, and I was just waiting for the right time to do it. Last year we performed a tragedy, and I thought it would be nice to alternate with a comedy.” Jory Vinikour says the sparse forces of five singers and five instrumentalists make it a true chamber opera. “The recitatives are extremely concise, and interesting. Arias are extraordinarily melodic, very rarely lengthy. The composer seems to go from one emotion, one mood to another within seconds. So it’s a wonderful discovery… My initial reaction was, oh, you know, a very nice piece of music, I like this, it will be very nice. But then we began rehearsing with five wonderful singers, and Celine’s staging. And within about a day, I thought, you know, this isn’t a nice piece of music, it’s actually a forgotten masterpiece.”