To a listener skeptical that anything coherent might emerge from either mélange, each proved an absolute delight. They largely shared a single creative team: in addition to Mr. Blin, Kathleen Fay, the festival’s executive director, as executive producer; Anna Watkins, costume designer; and Melinda Sullivan, dance director and movement coordinator.
They also shared many of the same hard-working performers, led by Stephen Stubbs and Paul O’Dette, lutenists, and Robert Mealy, concertmaster. Amanda Forsythe, a stalwart festival soprano, took lead roles brilliantly, as the love-struck Isabelle in “Carnaval” and the conniving servant girl Serpina in “La Serva Padrona.”
Other singers doing significant double duty were Jesse Blumberg, as Isabelle’s Léandre and, hilariously, the bumbling thief Tracollo; and Douglas Williams as Léandre’s rival, Rodolphe, and Serpina’s puffed-up master, Uberto. Mireille Lebel was an excellent Minerve, and Aaron Sheehan and Teresa Wakim were wildly entertaining as Orfeo and a Happy Shade in a sendup of the tragic tale with just the right edge of camp.
Caroline Copeland was a welcome omnipresence as choreographer and dancer in “Carnaval” and as a mute gadabout, Fulvio, in the Pergolesi, holding the stage with her antics before the performance and at intermission as well. Ms. Watkins’s costumes were wonderful, especially in the Campra’s underworld scene.
Some “Carnaval” singers also doubled in an excellent performance of Handel’s early oratorio “La Resurrezione” on Thursday evening at the New England Conservatory: Ms. Wakim as Mary Magdalene, Mr. Sheehan as St. John, Karina Gauvin as the Angel and Christian Immler (a devilish Plutone in Campra’s underworld) as Lucifer.
Mr. Mealy everywhere led the fine Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra with spirit and drive, essentially acting as conductor, though Mr. Stubbs took the lead from harpsichord and lute in “La Resurrezione.”
In addition to the usual exhibits by instrument makers, publishers and the like, as well as master classes, lectures and symposiums, the festival offered many smaller-scale concerts. Two on Saturday were notable for appearances by the cornetto virtuoso Doron David Sherwin.
In the afternoon, Mr. Sherwin and Concerto Palatino performed “Echoes of St. Mark’s,” a program of works by Giovanni Gabrieli and others that carried forth the festival’s Venetian theme at the New England Conservatory. The program notes by Mr. Sherwin’s fellow cornetto player, Bruce Dickey, made much of the echoes to be heard in the vaulted basilica of St. Mark’s, “echoes softened and diffused by the thousands of stone fragments comprising the mosaics.”
Most of that was left to the imagination in the intimate confines of Jordan Hall, the conservatory’s gem of an auditorium beloved for its clear, straightforward acoustics. The music’s long, largely straight lines, tailored to the reverberant St. Mark’s setting, did not encourage much embellishment from Mr. Sherwin (or Mr. Dickey) or even provide enough variety for just an hourlong concert.
But the late-night program on Saturday was another matter, with Mr. Sherwin and Mr. Dickey joining Quicksilver in “Teutscher Lustgarten: Music for Drinking, Loving and Lamenting,” also in Jordan Hall. Half of the dozen numbers here were ensemble songs by the 17th-century master Johann Hermann Schein, rendered by the BEMF Young Artists Training Program singers. In this well-varied program with shifting instrumentation, Mr. Sherwin could unleash his remarkable technique, not in a showy manner but subtly and smoothly.
The tireless Mr. Mealy directs Quicksilver along with Julie Andrijeski, another violinist. And when Ms. Andrijeski broke a string and had to take several minutes to replace it, Mr. Mealy expanded his range further, into stand-up chat and comedy.
Continue reading the main story