Sinfonietta Bel Canto to feature French opéra-comique at May concerts

Join the Sinfonietta Bel Canto in its celebration of the elegant 19th-century French music, presenting Daniel François Auber’s “Le Concert à la cour ou La Débutante,” an opéra-comique in one act, and Camille Saint-Saëns Second Symphony.

It will be the U.S. premiere of “Le Concert à la cour.”

Enjoy the Sinfonietta in two performances at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18, at St. Paul United Church of Christ, 5739 Dunham Road in Downers Grove, and 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St. in Oak Brook.

Ticket information can be found via or by calling (630) 384-5007. Parking is free and there is ample intimate seating. Be sure to order your tickets early, past performances have been sold out.

“Le Concert à la cour, ou La Débutante,” with libretto by Eugène Scribe and Mélesville, was first performed at the Opéra-Comique on June 3, 1824. The story is set in Stuttgart at the Court of Württemberg in the early-19th century. A young soprano named Adèle (Dana McAdam on Saturday and Angela Korbitz on Sunday) has come to the court at Stuttgart to obtain a position as a singer and finds her old friend Victor (Derek Buckley) there as painter to the court. Despite the efforts of Kapellmeister Ascanio (Mike Doll) to reject her in an audition, the Prince (Bill Ortega) arranges for her public debut. Ascanio tries to ruin it by conducting the accompanying orchestra in erratic tempos, but Victor accompanies her in another aria, which secures the approval of the Court. Also in the cast is Carline is sung by Anna Board. The opera enjoyed considerable success across Europe, and even reached Rio de Janeiro in 1846.

Saint-Saëns’ Second Symphony (1859) op. 55 is a fine example of orchestral economy and structural cohesion, with passages that show the composer's mastery of earlier compositional method. The French composer was always deeply aware of the great masters of the past such as Jean-Philippe Rameau, Johann Sebastian Bach, and George Frederic Handel. The best known of his symphonies is the Third (1886) which has featured parts for piano and organ. Saint-Saëns was a foundling member of the pro-French Société Nationale de Musique formed in 1871. In his later life, he maintained his conservative compositional views, describing Debussy’s music: "We must at all costs bar the door of the Institute against a man capable of such atrocities; they should be put next to the cubist pictures."

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and National Endowment for the Arts.

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