File puptcrit/puptcrit.0909, message 351

Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 17:40:03 -0400
Subject: [Puptcrit] Introduction

I was invited to join this listserv by Dmitri Carter of the Carter  
Family Marionettes and wanted to introduce myself. I direct an early  
music ensemble in the San Francisco Bay Area called Magnificat and we  
will be performing an opera with the Carters on the weekend of October  

We first worked with Stephen, Chris and Dmitri over ten years ago. The  
first occasion was an opera parody from the Parisian fair theatres of  
the early 18th century. We reconstructed a parody of Lully's Atys -  
what amounted to a Saturday Night Live version of a very grand opera.  
The authorities (who were being mercilessly lampooned in these  
parodies) regularly restricted the activities of the fair theatres -  
one year decreeing that they could have only 5 singers on stage, then  
3, and finally, one season it was announced that no singers at all  
could appear on stage. The solution? Puppets!

"La Grandmere amoureuse" (loosely translated as "The Lusty Grandma")  
was so much fun (and included live chickens, but more on that later)  
that we immediately planned another. This time we transcribed an opera  
from 1671 by Jacopo Melani called "Il Girello", a comedy with a  
absurdly convoluted plot that had been performed at least once with  
puppets in addition to numerous performances with human actors. Since  
our work together, the Carters have produced a puppet opera almost  
every season on their own series in Seattle.

This time we will be performing Francesca Caccini's "Liberation of  
Ruggiero", a re-telling of Cantos 6-8 of Ariosto's Orlando furioso -  
and therefore perfect material for the Sicilian puppet tradition that  
the Carters preserve. The opera, written and performed only once in  
1625, is notable in that it was the first opera composed by a woman.  
The daughter of one of the champions of the nascent genre that we now  
call opera, Francesca had a remarkable career in her own right as a  
singer, instrumentalist, teacher, and, above all, as a composer. She  
was the first woman to enjoy a career as a professional musician and  
in fact was the highest paid musician in the Medici Court in the 1610s  
and 20s. The opera has sword fights, burning oceans, hippogryphs - and  
exquisite music!

I will write more about our production in subsequent posts, but if you  
are interested, I have posted quite a few articles at the Magnificat  


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