Was Joan of Arc a saint or a witch? Did George Bernard Shaw have the right idea when he portrayed her as one of the forerunners of nationalism in his play Saint Joan?
Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans is an opera, so it revolves around a more romantic question: Joan must choose between her yearnings for a dashing knight and her duty to a higher cause. That may not be as profound as the issue Shaw raises, but the opera has a score by a great composer and it’s sung in Russian, a language that has its own built-in music. The Russian Opera Workshop will present three free performances of the Maid’s dilemma, staged concert style with the Workshop’s appealing combination of summertime informality and high class musicianship. You won’t see the balls and costumes Tchaikovsky visualized, but you’ll hear some impressive young voices.
The Russian Opera Workshop is produced and directed by Ghenady Meirson, the Russian opera expert at both of Philadelphia’s leading music schools, the Curtis Institute of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts. Rising young vocalists come from all over the United States, and some foreign countries, to study Russian-language opera with one of the world’s leading specialists. They sharpen their skills by preparing performances and local audiences get a free off-season treat.
The Russian Opera Workshop will present The Maid of Orleans from July 30 through August 1, 2019, at 7:30pm at the Helen Corning Warden Theater, Academy of the Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street. Admission is free but the theater is small and intimate, so it’s recommended you arrive early.