Labor of Love

T he Yale Baroque Opera Project has a big heart.

No, really. High above the stage inside Yale’s University Theatre, where the group performs Cavalli’s Erismena tomorrow and Sunday at 3 p.m., is a luminous heart that changes colors—steely grey, icy blue, neon pink—with the tenor of a given scene. “It acts as a gigantic mood ring for the emotions of the characters,” says YBOP’s artistic director Grant Herreid. “The color of the heart and the intensity of the color reflect what’s happening on stage.”

What’s happening on stage includes “mistaken identities, cross-dressing characters, courtly intrigue and amorous exploits,” the latter orchestrated by wily Cupid, mentioned so often in the original opera that stage director Ethan Heard turned him into an actual character.

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There are still other reasons to call this a labor of love. The cast of 11 are mostly non-music undergraduates at Yale, majoring in areas like philosophy and geophysics. Yet they sing Erismena’s arias and recitatives—where the words are more speech- than lyric-like—with sincerity and passion, wearing elaborate, professional-grade costumes against a setting brought to life by powerful, dramatic lighting choices. Backing them up is a masterful 10-person orchestra split between the left and right ends of the stage, with authentic Baroque instrumentation including theorbos, harpsichords and violins.

Each of this weekend’s performances is free to attend, by the way. How lovable is that?

Erismena
presented by the Yale Baroque Opera Project
222 York St, New Haven (map)
Sat 4/25 and Sun 4/26 at 3pm | Free
www.ybop.yale.edu

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories, helped in no small part by a small team of dedicated contributors.

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