Pacific Chorale, led by Artistic Director Robert Istad and celebrated for its artistic innovation and compelling performances, launches its 56th season with Voices of Light / The Passion of Joan of Arc, a spectacular evening of music and film on Saturday, October 7, 2023, 7:30 pm, at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The cinematic event features Richard Einhorn’s “brilliantly effective” (Washington Post) 1994 oratorio inspired by and performed live to director Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Einhorn’s evocative work, written for orchestra, chorus and soloists, provides a haunting backdrop to the restored version of Dreyer’s cinematic tour de force, considered by many critics to be among the greatest films ever made. USA Today proclaims it “the most successful melding yet of classic cinema and live music.” Einhorn draws primarily on the writings of medieval women such as Hildegard of Bingen and Christine de Pizan, for his text, and, at points, even includes the words of Joan of Arc herself.
The featured soloists include Pacific Chorale members Alexandria Burdick, soprano; Rebecca Hasquet, soprano; Stephanie Shepson, mezzo-soprano; Jane Hyun-Jung Shim, mezzo-soprano; Jason Francisco, tenor; and Fernando Muñoz, bass.
The Passion of Joan of Arc was thought to have been lost in a warehouse fire, but a single print of Dreyer’s film was discovered in a janitor’s closet of a Norwegian mental institution in 1981, which, subsequently, “was digitally restored to pristine condition” (Bright Lights Film Journal). The film, based on the actual 15th century transcripts of St. Joan’s trial for heresy, chronicles Joan of Arc’s trial in the hours leading up to her execution. Dressed as a boy, she led French troops in a defeat against British occupiers during the Hundred Years’ War, but was later captured and tried by French clergy loyal to the British and condemned to death by burning at the stake for her belief that she was spurred to action by religious visions. Pioneering director Carl Theodor Dreyer employed an array of techniques—expressionistic lighting, interconnected sets, painfully intimate close-ups—to immerse viewers in the experience along with Joan. Of Renée Maria Falconetti’s legendary portrayal of Joan of Arc, the late renowned film critic Pauline Kael decreed, “It may be the finest performance ever recorded on film.”
Pacific Chorale’s 2023-24 Season is made possible, in part, by generous support from Platinum Season Sponsor Phillip N. and Mary A. Lyons.
The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
For tickets ($28 - $147) and information, visit www.pacificchorale.org or call 714-662-2345.