The Third Coast Baroque presented Lucifera, Illuminating the Darkness on April 29 at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston and April 30 at the Chicago Temple in Chicago. Featuring Vivica Genaux, Mezzo Soprano, Ruben Dubrovsky, conductor and the Third Coast Baroque Orchestra this exquisite program was finally performed in person to a very enthusiastic audience. There was a three year wait for this event to take place thanks to COVID.
In 2018, Gail Belytschko, who generously underwrote all the artists for the two evenings, took her seat at a Third Coast Baroque performance and when she heard Vivica Genaux, she was blown away Of course, who wouldn’t be? Genaux is remarkable. Regardless of the initial arrangements, continual changes were needed since the world was continually changing. Both Genaux and Dubrovsky live in Europe and they were able to connect and plan this special program. It has only become possible to bring together all the elements needed for this show with COVID numbers reduced. The audience was thrilled to experience the Vivica Genaux unique technique. Among the selected numbers were some of the most fascinating music ever written reintroduced this evening having not been performed in centuries. this evening. Composers included: Johann Adolf Hasse, Antonio Maria Bonnoncini, Carlo Francesco Pollarolo, and Pietro Torri.
Gail Belytschko kindly agreed to answer some questions regarding the planning for this spectacular program.
What were you envisioning when you first thought about this performance?
I was so impressed and excited after her 2018 performance that I set about learning everything I could about her artistry, how her career developed, and about the unique repertoire that she has made her own. With that background on board, I couldn’t wait to take the experience to a new level. To add to the anticipation, I was hearing that she and Ruben Dubrovsky been working together to curate a performance featuring composers from the Italian Baroque Era whose works were no longer performed.
What was the most difficult part of the long wait for this performance?
The ups and downs of the pandemic seemed so unpredictable. We thought there was light at the end of the tunnel for travel and live performance, only to be plunged back into more vigilant mitigation techniques and restrictions. There was always the fear that all the arrangements would be in place, but the performance could not go forward.
Was there a specific incident that surprised you?
Something Vivica mentioned in an email the day after the performances triggered a memory of watching Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers while visiting extended family in Pittsburgh in May 2009. It was a wonderful and unique performance with modern costuming, and I remember commenting that the mezzo singing Isabella was incredible. I was so impressed that I saved the program all these years, and when I found it I confirmed that the mezzo was Vivica Genaux. I thought I had become a fan in 2018, but actually had become one much earlier, but did not know it.
In this great adventure what was most rewarding to you?
I was invited to attend the rehearsals from day one leading up to the performances. Being allowed to observe the process of preparing this totally new program was eye-opening. The attention to detail: the discussions about the score, how to best convey the various emotions described in the lyrics, what vocal and instrumental techniques would best showcase the works–this was fascinating and an experience I will never forget. Basically, I will never look at performances quite the same way.
Thank you, Gail
A note from Angela Young Smucker, executive director & co-founder: “This production, with the return of Rubén and TCB’s orchestra, has renewed our organization and carried us into a new level of performance and collaboration. Our artists aren’t just showing up for a gig with TCB. They’re personally invested in the integrity, quality, and future of the ensemble and its work together. It’s a very exciting time for us, and we’re all looking forward to the coming season and debut of our festival in 2023.
For the filming of the April 29 concert, we collaborated with Valhalla Media, a local Chicago production team. The company is led by Nikolas Wenzel, who not only is an experienced video engineer, he’s also a member of the Lyric Opera Chorus.”
The finished product will be available for streaming on-demand May 14-30. Pay-what-you-can tickets are available on our website.
A Third Coast Baroque performance is a wonderful experience.
Check the website for additional information.
Photo are courtesy of Third Coast Baroque unless otherwise noted
Third Coast Baroque invites you to save these dates:
An evening to celebrate TCB’s first six years -Tuesday, June 7, 2022 from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Epiphany Center for the Arts, 201 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60607
Third Coast Baroque Festival, August 31-September 3, 2023