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The Sunday Opera: Jean-Marie Leclair's "Scylla et Glaucus"

Jean-Marie Leclair is considered to be the founder of the French violin school, but we’ll be turning to one of his operas on this week’s Sunday Opera (2/16 3:00 p.m.) with “Scylla et Glaucus” which had its world premiere at the Academie Royale de Musique in 1746.   The opera is based, as were many of its day, on the mystical world of gods and goddesses and is rife with all of the wonderful terrors of a spurned goddess which make it both exciting and difficult for modern audiences and productions.  Not only does the forth act include a volcanic eruption, the full moon descending and turning into Hecate, but the opera ends with the heroine turned to stone and the hero reduced to abject wretchedness, but the entire opera is firmly based in the “Baroque style.”  

Scylla, a nymph, (Donna Brown) and Glaucus, a sea god, (Howard Crook) are lovers.  This causes the jealous Circe (Rachel Yakar), who is also in love with Glaucus, to begin plotting her many ways to win Glaucus’ love at all costs.  She drafts a love-potion, and Glaucus falls under its spell until he is reminded that Scylla is waiting for him.  Just at the mention of her name, the spell is broken, and Glaucus returns to Scylla, incurring Circe’s wrath.   The cast includes Elisabeth Vidal, Catherine Dubosc, Francis Duziak, and Rene Schirrer.  They’re joined by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists with John Eliot Gardiner conducting.  Join Michael Kownacky after the opera for more music by Leclair including his Deuzieme Recreation de Musique, Sonata in C Major, Op. 1 No. 2, and Tamborin, but no violin music since if Leclair is known for anything, it’s that.

Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.