Virginia Arts Festival Presents Actéon
Date: March 12, 2014
Location: New York, USA
Choir type: Professional Choirs
The Virginia Arts Festival presents a rare evening of period music conducted by one of the most revered names in early music performance, William Christie, on Tuesday, April 15, at Norfolk’s First Lutheran Church. Mr. Christie will lead the musicians of Juilliard415, the principal period-instrument ensemble of The Juilliard School, and singers from Juilliard Opera in Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 18th-century treasure, Actéon.
For music lovers, this is like a visit from royalty: a conductor, harpsichordist, musicologist and teacher, William Christie is acclaimed by critics, artists, and audiences as the inspiration behind one of the most exciting musical adventures of the last thirty years: the rediscovery of a rich lode of music created for concert and stage by 17th- and 18th-century French composers. The New York Times praises William Christie as a master who “has galvanized—not to say, created—the early-music scene in Paris…and brought the Baroque to vivid life,” noting that a performance with Mr. Christie “ranks among the highlights of a season.” American-born, Christie has been many times honored by his adopted country France, which has designated him Commandeur dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur as well as Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Charpentier’s Actéon is based on a story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which a hunter happens upon the goddess Diana bathing with her attendants. He tries to hide but is discovered, and in anger the goddess turns the hunter into a stag, whereupon he is pursued and torn apart by his own hounds. The story of Actéon has inspired artists for centuries: There are Greek vases on the British Museum portraying Actéon being devoured by his hounds; the garden of a villa in Pompeii, Italy, shows Diana on one pillar and Actéon on the next; the Renaissance painter Titian was inspired by the story to paint one of his most famous works, and English painter Thomas Gainsborough captured the story on canvas as well.