One of the world’s finest mezzo-sopranos, Anne Sophie von Otter will sing with the renowned ensemble Les Musiciens du Louvre this Friday. Together they will present a program that displays the beauty of the 17th and 18th centuries and show why they are committed to preserving it.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Cantabile Subito
Mezzo-Soprano Anne Sophie von Otter

The Baroque period featured men who were able to sing extremely high for their gender. This was accomplished by removing young boys’ family jewels so they would not enter puberty, and therefore be able to play women in the theatre. These men were called castrati. In the present era, however, there are talented women who perform the elaborate music composed for these men during the Baroque period.

Anne Sophie von Otter began her vocal studies in Sweden and has performed numerous roles in major operas, such as “Carmen” and “Staden.” Her career started as an alto instead of a high soprano when she joined the Basel Opera in 1982. Since then she has flourished and taken advantage of modern technologies in the recording studio. Her repertoire may contain classical pieces, but she pushes her interpretations to the limit with constant experimentation in the studio.

Marc Minkowski founded Les Musiciens du Louvre in 1982 when he committed himself to defending 17th and 18th century works. The self-taught conductor has not been limited to the Baroque period and has taken every opportunity to branch out to other periods. His ensemble is a major European period instrumental group. Les Musiciens Du Louvre are based in Grenoble, France and have performed in the most prestigious places in the world, such as at the Cologne Philharmonic and the London Barbican Centre.

Their program included selections from their beloved Baroque period. They will perform four works from the English composer Handel. His “Concerto Grosso in G Major, Op. 6, No. 1” and “Qui d’amor, nel suo linguaggio” show off the distinctness of the period von Otter and Les Musiciens du Louvre devote so much of their time. The other two Handel pieces are works from the opera “Ariodante.” The opera explores the mutual love between a princess and her betrothed and the sinister duke who wishes to marry the princess for political reasons. He plots revenge against the couple in this “Othello”-type story.

Von Otter and the Musiciens will also perform a piece by the father of the Baroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach. This piece, titled “ich habe genug,” is a church work that features von Otter in a delicate soprano part. The show concludes with Rameau’s “Orchestral Suite from Les Boreades.” Rameau is known for his avant-garde approach to composition and was an innovator during the Baroque period.

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