Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to for awhile. Tonight at Opernhaus Dortmund, we’re premiering Frédegonde for the first time in Germany. It’s a work inspired from the early history of the Merovingians in what is now France and the ongoing feud between two of the queens, Brunhild and Frédegonde. The work was composed by Ernest Guiraud and, following Guiraud’s death, Camille Saint-Saëns and Paul Dukas.
The work has rarely been done since its original premiere, and it’s too bad. I’ve genuinely enjoyed singing it, and it’s one of my favorite chorus operas I’ve been a part of. The work is definitely of its time in a good way; anyone familiar with opera of that time will hear the Wagnerian influences – especially in the first three acts, which were composed by Guiraud – but also French mélodies. In the early rousing chorus numbers, you can hear the attempt to establish a particularly medieval sound, which leads to surprising twists and harmonies. The orchestration is lush.
Our production features a silent film that does the primary story telling. We filmed it last spring and summer at the beautiful Schloss Bodelschwingh here in Dortmund. The reason is obvious: due to the shifting nature of the coronavirus pandemic, it made sense to find a story telling medium that didn’t require close proximity to one another on the day of the premiere. This process added an extra exciting element for us.
You’ll see and hear me briefly as Brunhild’s and Merovig’s servant, and those are my hands playing chess in the silent film scene titles. But besides my small solo work here, I’m very proud of the work we did in the chorus for this, and I hope our audience enjoys it.
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