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· Being authentically in the world of Baroque opera.

By HEATHER MacDONALD [City Journal] – When it comes to opera, most early music ensembles confine their pursuit of authenticity to the pit, ceding responsibility for the stage action to directors who lack any interest in history. The result is a bizarrely disjunctive experience in which the music emanating from the orchestra’s pre-modern instruments is as faithful a recreation of Baroque performance practice as the limits of historical knowledge allow, while the updated drama on stage features TV-addled housewives and evil shopping mall developers acting out the obsessions of postmodern consumer society, complete with twentieth-century body language and gadgets (cell phones required!).

The Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF), by contrast, takes the apparently radical position that the action and the music in Baroque opera form a unified whole. BEMF seeks to recreate how operas would have been staged at the time of their original performances, not just how they would have been sung and played. This is no mere mechanical application of the historicizing principle. Baroque music, closely tied as it is to court ceremony and dance, implies an entire mode of being in the world.

Continued at City Journal | More Chronicle & Notices.

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