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Cornish Opera Theater Presents “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme”

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Cornish Opera Theater presents the rarely-staged Molière and Jean-Baptiste Lully comic opera/ballet Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman) October 18 and 19 in the Cornish Playhouse at the Seattle Center, 201 Mercer St., in Seattle.

Makaela Pollock directs the production, which is performed in English with musical selections sung in the original French. The renowned baroque music specialist Stephen Stubbs leads the period instrument ensemble that accompanies the action as well as provides musical direction for the entire production. Noted baroque choreographer Anna Mansbridge choreographs the dances for this comic opera/ballet. Adam Burdick directs the chorus.

Cornish Opera Theater presents
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
By Jean-Baptiste Lully and Molière
Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center
Platinum Sponsor: Seattle Center
201 Mercer Street, Seattle
Friday, October 18, 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 19, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20 general; $15 seniors; $10 students and Cornish alumni, $5 Teen Tix (members only)
Available online, http://www.cornish.edu/opera, or by phone at Brown Paper Tickets 1.800.838.3006.

About the work

When Louis XIV was crowned King of France in 1661 at the age of 23, he was already a devoted and celebrated dancer, who appeared regularly in the ballets of Lully. During the first decade of his reign, he remained close to this art and this artist, commissioning Lully and Molière to create a number of musical dramatic works, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme among them.

In the realm of dramatic poetry, Molière was the greatest poet of Louis XIV’s court, such that it was almost inevitable that Lully and Molière would team up to forge a new form of musical dance theater which they called the Comedie-Ballet. They created the first in this genre in 1664 with Le Mariage force. What followed was an unbroken chain of “hit shows” that lasted until 1671, of which Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (produced in 1670) was the most popular of all. Rarely in the history of theater have the arts of music, dance and poetry been held in such an exquisite balance as during these years at the court of Louis XIV and the collaborations of Lully and Molière.

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme pokes fun at the pretensions of the newly and grotesquely rich Monsieur Jourdain, as fresh a source of humor and discomfort today as it was when Molière penned the lines in 1670. In many ways, the combined genius of Lully and Molière produced a brilliant prototype for the modern musical comedy of today.

About the artists

Stephen Stubbs, Music Director. After a thirty-year career in Europe, Stephen Stubbs returned to his native Seattle in 2006 to establish Pacific MusicWorks, an organization dedicated to the contemporary presentation of early music. The company’s inaugural production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, directed for the stage by South African artist William Kentridge was universally lauded by critics and public alike. Subsequent productions have included Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi as well as the Monteverdi Vespers and Handel’s Esther, performances described by the Seattle Times as “utterly thrilling” and “of a quality you are unlikely to encounter anywhere else in the world.” Since 1997 Stephen has also served as co-artistic director of the biannual Boston Early Music Festival where he has directed or co-directed productions of Conradi’s Ariadne, Lully’s Thesee and Psyché, Steffani’s Niobe, Handel’s Acis and Galatea and overseen three Grammy-nominated recordings. Stephen’s other recent engagements have included conducting Handel’s Guilio Cesare and Gluck’s Orfeo in Bilbao, Spain, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the Netherlands Opera, and Handel’s Agrippina for UCLA. 2011 saw his debut conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. This is the third production that Stephen music directed for Cornish Opera Theater: previous productions include Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (1625) and John Blow’s Venus and Adonis (1684).

Makaela Pollock, Stage Director, grew up in California, where she began her theater training by studying with Shakespeare Santa Cruz and founding a youth-run community theater. She moved on to work and study with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Trinity Repertory, Steppenwolf, The Writer’s Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre, Summer Repertory Theater, and Annex Theatre. Favorite productions include: A new musical adaptation of Figaro, Frank Wildhorn’s CivilWar, Twelfth Night, Richard III, The Learned Ladies, A Mouthful of Birds, Waiting For Godot, Marat/Sade, and Betrayal. She also was lucky enough to be a part of Paula Vogel’s Brown MFA New Plays Festival for three years; her premieres include What Once We Felt by Ann Marie Healy, House of Gold by Gregory S. Moss, Sixty Miles to Silver Lake and Bruise Easy by Dan Le Franc. Pollock has assistant directed The Fantasticks and A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep, and The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World at Lookingglass Theatre. She holds a BA in Drama from Vassar College and an MFA from The Brown University/Trinity Rep Consortium.


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