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Dorothea and Artemisia

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Dorothea and Artemisia

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s 2018-2019 season culminates with Dorothea and Artemisia, a program featuring the world premieres of two original chamber operas, each inspired by the contributions of an extraordinary woman artist. The concert includes From the Field, by Christopher Stark illuminating the work of Depression-era photographer Dorothea Lange, and Artemisia, by Laura Schwendinger based on the life of 17th century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

The program opens with From the Field, a 15-minute micro-opera by Christopher Stark with libretto by Megan Stark. Illustrated by projected images of Lange’s dramatic photos of the Dust Bowl migration, From the Field is a solo piece performed by Left Coast’s soprano Nikki Einfeld accompanied by violin and cello. Composer Christopher Stark explains that his new work “presents three brief glimpses into specific moments in American history in which our government chose to contradict environmental research it commissioned for financial and/or political gain: Dorothea Lange’s Farm Security Administration photographs of rural poverty during the Great Depression; John Wesley Powell’s 19th-century warning about water usage in the American West; and Nobel Laureate Steve Running’s current research on climate change.” Projections are designed by Andrew Lucia, lighting by Allen Willner, and costumes by Jenalie Auth.

The celebration of women artists continues with Artemisia, a new opera by Laura Schwendinger with libretto by Ginger Strand about passion, betrayal, and art in 17th century Italy, based upon the life of famed Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 –c.1656). With projected images that come to life, Schwendinger’s new work tackles Gentileschi’s struggles and triumphs, as the artist receives great recognition whilst battling intense gender inequality. “She was one of the most famous painters of her the generation,” said Schwendinger. “Artemisia achieved great renown in an era when women painters were not generally accepted, and she was the first women to be a member of the Accademia delle Arte del Disegno in Florence. She specialized in depictions of strong, often anguished women from biblical stories and myth. These depictions were often autobiographical, as she relived the traumatic events of her life through her art.”

The fully staged world premiere of Artemisia features a stellar cast led by mezzo-soprano Betany Coffland in the title role, hailed by Opera News as “extremely fine” and “a joy to watch,” and her tone described by San Francisco Classical Voice as "plush" and "Italianate." Coffland is joined by Kyle Stegall, Marnie Breckenridge, Jonathan Smucker, Igor Vieira, and Nikki Einfeld, along with a seven-piece chamber ensemble comprised of Left Coast musicians and guest artists. Matilda Hofman conducts, with stage direction by Jenn BeVard, costumes by Maggie Whitaker, lighting design by Allen Willner, and projections by Andrew Lucia.

The world premiere of Artemisia is made possible by generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Opera Center, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

  • Venue: Z Space
  • Date: Sun June 2, 2019 2:00pm
  • City: San Francisco
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Price Range: $18 to $60; 20% off any standard or community seat with code LeftVoice20
  • Tickets: 415-617-5223
Additional Dates:
Sat June 1, 2019 7:30pm
Z Space

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Christopher Stark

From the Field - World Premiere

Laura Schwendinger

Artemisia - World Premiere