A recipient of a 2016 National Opera Center Discovery grant
ARTEMISIA is an opera of passion, betrayal and art in 17th century Italy
With libretto by Ginger Strand
Artemisia, about the life the great baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, will receive five performances this year, three in New York and two in San Francisco
The performances by Trinity Wall Street, as part of their Time's Arrow Festival in February and March, directed by the world renowned opera director Christopher Alden, were featured in the New York Times Fall Preview.
Artemisia, an by Laura Schwendinger with Libretto by Ginger Strand, is an opera of passion, betrayal and art in 17th century Italy based upon the life of famed female Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 –c.1656)
ARTEMISIA, an opera Paul Chihara calls “a masterpiece!”
The World Premiere of Orchestral version with Trinity NOVUS,
New York Times- Link to New York Times review
“Like Caravaggio before her, the Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi knew how to build scenes of taut drama with far-from-idealized figures crammed into a constricted pictorial space and bathed in harsh light. The composer Laura Schwendinger and the librettist Ginger Strand achieve something similar in their potently claustrophobic opera “Artemisia,” which received its staged premiere at Trinity Wall Street’s St. Paul’s Chapel on Thursday (and repeats on Saturday).
Gentileschi’s life story could provide fodder for many hours of music drama. The daughter of a painter, she was raped by her teacher when she was a teenager. At a court trial, her assailant was convicted, but only after she had been subjected to torture to verify her testimony. She went on to attract the attention of Cosimo II de’ Medici, befriended Galileo Galilei and worked in London at the invitation of King Charles I.
‘Artemisia’ lasts just 80 minutes, but fits in big themes set to music of quivering intensity. The story of the rape is there, blended with Gentileschi’s unbearably compassionate painting of the biblical character Susanna, who was ogled and shamed in her bath. But larger questions of idea and form,image and projection, sight and gaze also find nuanced and intelligent treatment.”
—Corinna da Fonesca da-Wollheim
With world renown director Christopher Alden- director & Lidiya Yankovskaya- conductor, Time’s Arrow festival, Featuring MET Artists Augusta Caso, Richard Troxell, and Heather Buck, Christopher Burchett and Oliver Mercer
From San Francisco Classical Voice,
"Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Proves That Great Opera Needn’t Be Grand"
World premiere of Chamber Version by Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, June 3, 2019
-"Laura Schwendinger's Artemisia, on the other hand, is sumptuous on every level...
Schwendinger’s score is striking. Often, it’s the little things, like the intoning of ‘Susanna’: the stressed syllable rising before the terminal fall, a nagging presence grudgingly accepted. Or the resolutions of the diminished fourths in Tommaso’s aria, a breathtaking piece of worry and longing...Most memorably, the music underscores Artemisia’s deteriorating vision. Tender, high-pitched glimmers shift so as to be out of reach. The shadows are flat-sounding chords: impressionistic, but with a distinctly contemporary sensibility.” - By Rebecca Wishnia;
Link to review https://www.sfcv.org/reviews/left-coast-chamber-ensemble/left-coast-chamber-ensemble-proves-that-great-opera-neednt-be
--“Artemesia” is a good match for Dorothea. More of a tale, with multiple scenes, Schwendinger’s score and Ginger Strand’s story not only casts its spell but awakens us again to the continuing conflict of men, women and art that has pervaded western history...The music challenges. The texture is rich. The variety of instrumentation stimulates and complements the complex issues alive in the script. Flute/piccolo, accurate and incisive, piano and percussion extending and developing motifs, harp and strings, provides a musical brocade that is excellent sister to the story, excellent transmitter of the story. Both reveal the complexity and do not hold back from riveting us to it.”; Link to review
MARCH 2019, Trinity Wall Street NOVUS
NY in orchestra premiere, Time's Arrow Festival with Christopher Alden
March 7/ 9, 2019
Time’s Arrow Festival
CHAMBER ORCHESTRA VERSION
Oliver Mercer – Agostino Tassi/Elder 1
Christopher Burchett – Cosimo di Medici/Elder 2
Brian Giebler – Tomasso/Occulist
NOVUS NY; Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor;
Christopher Alden, stage director
Excerpts from NY and SF productions
Interview on KDFC Radio, SF
Other links in the press
SF Classical Voice
21 Media Group
I Care if you Listen
Broadway World about Artemisia
Trinity’s Time’s Arrow festival, taking place this season from March 5-9, is conceived as a unique combination of Baroque and contemporary works united by a common theme. Continuing its commitment to amplifying the voices of female artists and exploring sensitive contemporary themes, this year’s Time’s Arrow festival juxtaposes old and new stories of the biblical figure Susanna. The festival includes Handel’s Susanna, as Trinity continues its long-term presentation of the composer’s oratorios, and the new opera Artemisia, fully staged by director Christopher Alden. Artemisia tells the story of the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who portrayed herself as Susanna in her famous painting Susanna and the Elders. The opera was composed by Laura Schwendinger to a libretto by Ginger Strand and will be conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya.
Continuing our commitment to amplifying the voices of female artists across multiple mediums, this year’s Time’s Arrow festival juxtaposes old and new stories of the biblical figure Susanna.
The first of these performances took place Nov. 3 at Symphony Space, Thalia Theater-- New York by the Center for Contemporary Opera in piano reduction, with an all star cast featuring Augusta Caso, mezzo soprano as Artemisia Gentileschi, and Sara Jobin conducting. Hailed by the LA Times as “mysteriously smoldering…a name to remember,” mezzo-soprano Augusta Caso is becoming known for her “silken…beguiling mezzo” and “fine subtle acting” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle). This past season, Augusta made her makes her Metropolitan Opera debut as a Flowermaiden in Wagner’s Parsifal under the baton of Maestro Nézet-Séguin.
Then in March, the award winning Trinity Wall Street Novus presented a fully staged production of Artemisia with orchestra. Trinity’s Time’s Arrow festival, March 5-9, was conceived as a unique combination of Baroque and contemporary works united by a common theme. Continuing its commitment to amplifying the voices of female artists and exploring sensitive contemporary themes, this year’s Time’s Arrow festival juxtaposes old and new stories of the biblical figure Susanna. The festival includes Handel’s Susanna, as Trinity continues its long-term presentation of the composer’s oratorios, and the new opera Artemisia, fully staged by director Christopher Alden. Artemisia tells the story of the Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who portrayed herself as Susanna in her famous painting Susanna and the Elders. The opera was composed by Laura Schwendinger to a libretto by Ginger Strand and will be conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya.
In June the award winning Left Coast Ensemble presented the fully staged chamber music version of Artemisia. Focusing on the art and milieu of Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi and Depression Era photographer Dorothea Lange, in two chamber operas with projected images that come to life. Laura Schwendinger’s new opera tackles Gentileschi’s struggles and triumphs as she battles inequality and reveals hidden stories.
450 Florida St, San Francisco
Saturday, June 1, 2019, 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 2, 2019, 2:00 PM
Artemisia: Bethany Coffland
Tomasso: Kyle Stegall
Susanna: Marnie Breckenridge
Abra/Tuzia: Nikki Einfeld
With Artists Anna Presler, violin
Leighton Fong, cello
Nikki Einfeld, soprano
Marnie Breckenridge, soprano
Matilda Hofman, conductor
Complete cast and players will be announced shortly
Christopher Stark From the Field WORLD PREMIERE. Laura Schwendinger Artemisia WORLD PREMIERE. We focus on the art and milieu of Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi and Depression Era photographer Dorothea Lange, in two chamber operas with projected images that come to life.
Excerpt links just below
With link to full production, hi def, subtitled NY performance
near bottom of page
Moon Aria. Artemisia sings about how "Galileo showed her the moon through a glass"
Final Chorus and ending of ARTEMISIA with Left Coast
Che si può fare. Ending with Barbara Strozzi's aria Che si può fare
Self Portrait as Allegory of Art, Artemisia sings about how "she needs more gold to make it bright" as her eyes fail.
Artemisia's moon aria with Betany Coffland, in SF
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble at Z space
Moon Aria. Artemisia sings about how "Galileo showed her the moon through a glass"
Tomasso's aria, Richard Troxell as Tommaso
in Trinity Wall Street NOVUS production, March 7/9 New York
"My name is Susanna, I am wife to Jaochim. I have sent my maids to fetch oil and towels. I am here in my garden, that my husband made for my pleasure. I have come for the hum of the bees and the wind's delicate caress"
Artemisia Gentileschi was born in Rome in 1593, the eldest child of the Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi and was one of the most important followers of the Caravaggist style. Artemisia Gentileschi achieved renown in an era when women painters were not accepted by patrons and was the first women member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. Her painting of the Judith story, Judith Slaying Holofernes, is perhaps the most well-known of the subject in art. As a sixteen year-old, Artemisia was raped by Agostino Tassi, while she was studying with him. Orazio pressed charges against Tassi. Artemisia was subjected to torture to verify her testimony. At the conclusion of the trial, Tassi was sentenced to prison for one year, but never served. The court case seemed to overshadow Artemisia’s achievements as an artist for many years, however today, she is regarded as one of the most advanced painters of her time.
In a Tableau Vivant of Artemisia's great painting "Susanna and the Elders", we see the canvas come alive as an autobiographical scene. In Artemisia’a fevered mind, Susanna now embodies Artemisia as a young woman, on the day Agostino Tassi raped her.
She is in her garden, bathing. The bees hum and swirl around her, heard in the florid lines of wind instruments that spiral around Susanna’s vocal lines. The elderly men behind the wall watch and harass her, threatening to rape her if she does not offer herself to them. In the tableau vivant, the two men now become Agostino Tassi and Cosimo de Medici. The two that came the day Artemisia was raped. The elderly Artemisia enters the scene and starts to question Tassi, Cosimo and Susanna, as the embodiment of the young Artemisia. In this moment, the elder Artemisia is the inquisitor and through this “inquisition” Artemisia relives the most horrible day of her life, when Agostino Tassi raped her.
Libretto (for Susanna and her Elders excerpt)
Link to full production, hi def, subtitled performance in NY
OPERA AMERICA ANNOUNCES RECIPIENTS OF OPERA GRANTS FOR FEMALE COMPOSERS
Supported by The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
SEVEN COMPOSERS AND SEVEN OPERA COMPANIES
AWARDED A TOTAL OF $200,000
The most recent round of Discovery Grants attracted 68 applicants,
and an independent adjudication panel selected seven composers to receive a total of $100,000. The recipients are Julia Adolphe for So Donia Speaks, Mary Ellen Childs for On Beyond, Emily Doolittle for Jan Tait and the Bear, Nkeiru Okoye for We’ve Got Our Eye On You, Rene Orth for Machine, Elena Ruehr for Crafting the Bonds and Laura Elise Schwendinger for Artemisia. This is the third round of Discovery Grants to be awarded since the program’s inception. See below for composer biographies and summaries of their operas.
Artemisia is a co-commission from Trinity Wall Street Novus, NY and the Left Coast Ensemble, SF
Articles about ARTEMISIA