Bologne: L’Amant Anonyme (3-CD)

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Item: 735131921725


Bologne: L’Amant Anonyme (3-CD)

Composer: Joseph Bologne
Artists: Nicole Cabell, Geoffrey Agpalo, David Govertsen, Erica Schuller, Michael St. Peter, Nathalie Colas, Haymarket Opera Company
Conductor: Craig Trompeter
Number of Discs: 3
Label: Cedille
Release Date: December 20, 2022

Haymarket Opera, Chicago’s premier early opera company that presents historically informed performances played on 18th-century classical era instruments, performs on this world-premiere recording of L’Amant Anonyme (The Anonymous Lover) by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799). Bologne’s identity as one of a small number of biracial early composers is significant in the history of western music.

Premiered in 1780, L’Amant Anonyme was the most successful of Bologne’s six operas and is the only one to survive to the present day. Based on a play by the composer’s patroness Félicité de Genlis, who was a respected writer of the era, the work is an opéra comique in two acts, composed in the then-popular style that mixed sung parts with spoken dialogue. 

The stellar cast is headlined by 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World soprano Nicole Cabell in the lead role of Léontine, opposite Chicago-native tenor Geoffrey Agpalo as her secret admirer Valcour. Company founder and artistic director Craig Trompeter leads the performance, conducting a 19-member contingent of the period-instrument Haymarket Opera Orchestra. 

The Chicago Tribune wrote, “Haymarket gave as delightful a production of this neglected bonbon as one could imagine,” and praised Cabell’s “expertly, convincingly shaded... radiant soprano” and Agpalo’s “hall-filling, bel canto sensibility... his tenor [is] plush, fluid, and lip-smackingly sweet.” 

Joseph Bologne, also known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was among the 18th century’s most extraordinary musical figures. He rose to fame among the European aristocracy as a virtuoso violinist, composer, and conductor; and was noted as one of the greatest swordsmen of his day and led numerous military campaigns as a high-ranking officer. Bologne was born in Guadeloupe to George Bologne, his Caucasian French father, and Nanon, his enslaved African mother. When his father was unjustly accused of murder, the family fled to France to avoid the younger Bologne being sold into slavery. 

Included with the recording is a full libretto in original French with English translation, along with a booklet essay titled “Silenced No More: Composer Joseph Bologne and the French Operatic Tradition” by Marc Clague, Professor of Musicology and Associate Dean at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, which provides historical context and insight into Bologne’s life and the opera.

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