I am here in Boston at the Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) and so far in three days I have seen two Monteverdi operas, heard two concerts and been to the Church of the Advent for their Sunday service. But that is a piece of cake compared to what the performers, especially in the opera, are doing this week.
On Sunday, I saw Ulisse, which lasted nearly four hours. In the orchestra were Robert Mealy and Julie Andrijeski who you may remember came to Honolulu last spring. Along with 10 other members of the Orchestra, including artistic directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs, they will repeat Ulisse tonight and Friday.
The third opera, Orfeo, will be performed Saturday night, June 13 and repeated June 21 in the Berkshires.
But it is not only the orchestra, but also the set crew, lighting team, costume and props personnel — and many of the lead singers have the same grueling schedules of performing all three operas and their repeat performances all in the same week!
Among last night’s star singers was Amanda Forsythe, who sang Poppea. But she also sang in Sunday’s Ulisse. Since I am on the road, I really do not have the time to do a spreadsheet of all the people who are doing double and triple duty in all these concerts, but can you imagine what a tour de force it is for the singers to memorize all this music and to sing a different opera on successive nights?
I asked Robert Mealy when he was in Honolulu, how he had the stamina to do this musical marathon, and he just smiled but did not answer. I am guessing they all must really be eating their Wheaties! They are all super human!
By the way, the program book is a staggering 408 pages long! If you would like to see more photos or even video clips, find the Boston Early Music Festuval on Facebook.