We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Melissa Errico & Campbell Scott
Jessica Gould & Tony Boutté

Photos by Stephen de las Heras

How thrilling it was to occupy the same space occupied by our third president Thomas Jefferson--to hear the story of his lengthy epistolary romance with Maria Cosway, to hear music she wrote for him, to learn about the private life of this great man of The Enlightenment.  In a site-specific work taking place in a room at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan, Salon Sanctuary Concerts presented "More Between Heaven and Earth", an interdisciplinary performance conceived and curated by Jessica Gould, with script and direction by Erica Gould.  The authentic costumes and wigs were by Deborah Wright Houston.

The time straddled the turn of the 19th c.  and the events took place in Paris and London.  Jefferson and Cosway, a multiply gifted married woman, met in 1786 in Paris and carried on a correspondence for the next four decades, with a brief reunion and a lengthy break.  There was clearly a meeting of the minds, a sharing of souls, and perhaps some heartbreak involved. The script did not make clear whether the romance was consummated physically but that matters little.  Her marriage and his duties to the newly born United States of America were insurmountable obstacles.  There is no love like forbidden love!

Actress Judith Hawking narrated the story with a wink and a twinkle in her eye.  Beautiful Melissa Errico gave an excellent portrayal of Maria Cosway and was quite moving in her performance of songs that this amateur musician composed.  We have never seen them in books of baroque or classical songs but would wish to learn them; they are quite excellent in their directness and simplicity, especially "Ogni dolce aura".  The great man himself was brought to sympathetic life by actor Campbell Scott.

Vocal honors were shared by Jessica Gould herself who lent her powerful soprano to the aria "Cesse cruel amour"  (from Sacchini's opera Dardanus which Jefferson and Cosway had seen together) and tenor Tony Boutté  who sang "Jours heureux" from the same opera.  More excerpts were to follow with much appreciative applause from the audience who sat along the perimeter of the historical room.

Music was provided by members of The Sebastians; leader and harpsichordist Jeffrey Grossman accompanied the singers and also played a lovely solo by Jacques Duphly entitled La Medée; violinist Daniel Lee joined him for the Adagio from Archangelo Corelli's Sonata in G minor.

© meche kroop

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