Previously Unstaged Operas Given New Life with Feminist Project Out of Her Mouth

Dunedin Consort, Hera and Mahogany Opera have come together to breathe life into 300 year-old ‘operas’ that have never been staged in Britain before.

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s biblical cantatas, Judith, Rachel & Susanne, each a tiny opera in all by name, are  historical jewels written by a woman, about women, for women that tell bold, unflinching tales about love, marriage, tragedy and adultery.

These  miniatures, in new English translations by Toria Banks and directed by Mathilde Lopez, will receive their UK premieres more than 300 years after they were composed. Out Of Her Mouth will be performed in accessible settings that champion the ability of women to tell their own stories and narrate their own experiences from the Highlands of Scotland to central London.

Translator, Producer & Joint Artistic Director, Hera Toria Banks said “I’ve been thinking about this project since I first read and heard the Cantates Bibliques, particularly those that tell knotty stories about Biblical women, because while there are exceptions, complex narratives about female experience are pretty rare in the operatic canon.

 “I think you can feel Jacquet de la Guerre’s confidence and ease as a mature composer in these pieces. Within each one there’s a lot of musical variety and a fascinating relationship between teller and tale, characterised by nuance and irony and all sorts of subtle shifts of tone. They’re very fleet of foot, which feels very contemporary.”

This is a feminist project that’s not just about performing music by women.  It’s a show about three women characters who are all trying to exercise agency and live fully in really constrained circumstances. The actions they take, and the things that they bear, living under patriarchy, come at a cost to themselves.

The three characters and stories are told by three sopranosCarolyn Sampson who sings the part of Judith, Anna Dennis in that of Rachel and Alys Mererid Roberts brings us the story of the young Susanne.

Throughout Out Of Her Mouth the three partners have sought to create opportunities for professional development, offering support and mentoring to an artist appointed by open call to each area of the production. Dunedin Consort has appointed Katarzyna Kowalik as harpsichordist, Hera has engaged Welsh soprano Alys Mererid Roberts, and Mahogany Opera has appointed Mathilde Lopez to the directorial team.

Making their work as accessible as possible to both audiences and performers drives all three ensembles. The potential to enjoy Out Of Her Mouth will be widened with the use of creative captions, audio description introductions and the film of it will be released later this year as part of National Centre for Early Music’s online Christmas festival.

Out Of Her Mouth is a partnership between Dunedin Consort, Hera, Mahogany Opera and the National Centre for Early Music and the project marks the culmination of Dunedin Consort’s 22/23 season.

Tour dates are:

Friday 23rd June, 8pm: Universal Hall, The Park, Findhorn, Forres  

Saturday 24th June, 8pm: Platform, Argyle Street, Glasgow 

Sunday 25th June, 8pm: Assembly Roxy, Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh 

Sunday 26th July, 6.30pm: Village Underground, Holywell Lane, London – Spitalfields Festival 

Wednesday 12th July, 7pm: National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, York Early Music Festival 

Running time: 60 minutes 

Irene Brown

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: