The Aquilon Music Festival, an intensive three-week young artist program, will launch this summer with the first modern-era production of the opera parody “La Chûte de Phaëton.”
The festival, based at the Linfield College McMinnville campus, will be held July 1-22. It will feature two full-staged opera productions—”La Chûte de Phaëton” and two performances of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”
The festival will also feature multiple vocal chamber music recitals, master classes, lectures and more. Aquilon Music Festival is dedicated to teaching and performing unknown and rarely-heard vocal repertoire, and will include master classes in conducting, deconstructing baroque opera and more. Applications are currently being accepted for students or early-career singers and instrumentalists.
The festival will culminate in the first modern era performance of the opera parody “La Chûte de Phaëton;” all students will have the opportunity to participate in the piece, and the festival is also currently casting additional singers.
“La Chûte de Phaëton,” written in the 17th century, is a satire of the Académie de Musique de Lyon, the first opera company in Lyon, France and only the second company outside Paris. It opened in 1688 amid great excitement with Lully’s masterful opera “Phaëton.” However, just four years later, the company failed spectacularly—a victim of regional and national politics, warfare, famine and plague. Amid fierce competition from Italian comedic musical theatre, the company declared bankruptcy.
Marc-Antoine Le Grand wrote “La Chûte de Phaëton” to ridicule the fall of the Académie using music from Lully’s “Phaëton,” but with new text.
“Our performance is set in the streets and alleys of Lyon and in its failing opera house,” says Anton Belov, associate professor of music at Linfield and festival organizer. “This performance, besides being its first in the modern era, carries special relevance and humor when opera is struggling to find its place in contemporary American culture.”
In contrast to the obscurity of “La Chûte de Phaëton,” Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” is a perennial favorite. This opera has been revived thousands of times since its premiere in Vienna in 1786. Though disguised as a witty comedy, it is a biting social commentary. Set at the estate of Count Almaviva on the wedding day of his servant Figaro, it is a comedy of errors, mistaken identities, jealousy, lust and ultimately the triumph of love and justice.
Faculty at the festival include veteran stage director Daniel Helfgot, conductor Barbara Day Turner, mezzo-soprano Hannah Penn, bass-baritone Ian Pomerantz, historical performance specialist Byron Schenkman, musicologist Natasha Roule, baritone Richard Zeller, and violinist and conductor Monica Huggett of the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
For more information on applications, faculty, auditions and ways to support the festival, visit www.aquilonmusicfestival.org.