Stage Door News
Toronto: VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert presents the Canadian premiere of “L’Amant anonyme” by Joseph Bologne
Friday, February 24, 2023
Our first post-pandemic season – devoted to Mozart and his Peers - closes on Sunday, 19 March 2023 at 2:30 pm with L’Amant Anonyme, the only surviving opera by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. “We are delighted to present the professional Canadian Premiere of Bologne’s comic opera,” says VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert’s General Director, Guillermo Silva-Marin. “We have saved the rarest till last this season and our patrons will have a unique chance to hear a work by the all-but-forgotten Bologne.
The opera will be performed in the Stephen Hargreaves edition, first used for a video streaming project at McGill University early in the pandemic. Hargreaves has generously allowed us to use his edition of the score, which David Fallis will conduct at the St. Lawrence Centre. Our cast includes Holly Chaplin, Ruth Acheampong, Alexander Cappellazzo, Joshua Clemenger, and Dion Mazerolle with Robert Cooper leading the VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert Chorus.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (25 December 1745 – 10 June 1799), was a French Creole virtuoso violinist, champion fencer and composer, who was also the conductor of the leading orchestra in Paris. Bologne was born in the then-French colony of Guadeloupe, the son of Georges de Bologne, a wealthy married planter, and an enslaved Senegalese-African woman named Nanon. At the age of seven, he was taken by his father to France, where he received an excellent education and was introduced to Parisian society, first as a champion fencer. Music lessons from François-Joseph Gossec followed and he became friends with several composers, notably, Grétry, Salieri, Gluck and Mozart. History tells us that Bologne and Mozart even lived at the same address in Paris for a time in 1778. He became very popular in the French capital and his orchestra premiered Haydn’s “Paris” Symphonies in 1787. During the French Revolution, he served as a Colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, established in 1792 as the first all-black regiment in Europe, and the first of its kind to be defending the French First Republic. OIC’s presentation of L’Amant Anonyme, the only one of his five operas to have survived, joins the company's legacy of rare and innovative programming.
Opera in Concert is supported by the Jackman Foundation, Estate of Hiroko Keith, The William and Nona Heaslip Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council, and Classical 96.3 FM is the media sponsor. Subscription and single tickets are available from the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts Box Office, 27 Front St. East, by phone – at 416-366-7723 or 1-800-708-6754 or online at TOLIVE.com. The theatre is wheelchair accessible and close to public transit and municipal parking. All performances are on Sunday afternoons at the St. Lawrence Centre at 2:30 pm.
Illustration: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Painting c. 1787.