…100 years in the making

February 22, 2024

Lyric Opera of Orange County will present Ethel Smyth’s FĂȘte Galante at the Chance Theater in Anaheim, California on March 8, 9, & 10, 2024. The production will be the West Coast premiere on the opera’s centennial with live orchestra. The orchestration is by Valerie Langfield, a UK based musicologist championing the work of Smyth. The one act opera will be combined with Smyth’s song cycle for mezzo soprano. The three pieces will be inserted throughout the story and act as a commentary to enhance the story. The three songs in the cycle are The Clown, Possession, and On the Road.

The production, conducted by Doris Lang Kosloff and directed by Diana Farrell, will feature Jessica Mamey as the Queen, Christopher Walters as Pierrot, Julia Behbudov as Columbine, among others, and feature Emily Border as the Woman in Pants, who will be singing the three songs from Smyth’s song cycle for mezzo soprano.

The addition of the “Woman in Pants” character to the commedia troupe was a choice by Farrell to serve as a sort of Greek Chorus. The Woman in Pants would typically arrive before a traveling group of players to announce the coming show and interact with the community. A large theme of the show is seeing how the actors differ or not from the archetypal characters. Says Kosloff, “This opera is the most incisive look into the commedia characters ever written!”

For those unfamiliar with the piece, it is a brilliantly crafted work which uses baroque styles to depict the regal behavior of high society and turns to lush romantic lines when the characters are able to steal private unfiltered moments. “I’ve been a huge fan of Smyth’s work for about 15 years, really starting to delve into her music when I first started programming recitals featuring women composers,” says Farrell, “I’ve been hoping to produce this work for almost 8 years and I finally felt the company has grown enough to really do the work justice.” Farrell is the Founding Artistic Director of Lyric Opera OC.

The production will be performed in the original English with English & Spanish supertitles.

Tickets may be purchased HERE