Mahogany Opera has announced that it is to stage a new production of three biblical cantatas by Élisabeth Jaquet de la Guerre, a French Baroque musician, harpsichordist and composer who lived from 1665-1729. Out of Her Mouth will premiere on 23 June 2023 at Universal Hall, Findhorn, before touring to Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.
Described by Mahogany Opera as miniature operas, each cantata tells a story from the Old Testament. Written by a woman, about women, for women, they tell bold, unflinching tales about love, marriage, tragedy and adultery.
The company has worked with Dunedin Consort, a world-leading Baroque ensemble, and Hera, an intersectional feminist opera company, to bring the cantatas to UK stages for the very first time, more than 300 years after they were written.
The three pieces are Judith, Jacob and Rachel, and Susanne. Each one tells a story about sex and power in encounters between men and women, using recitative and three or four short arias performed by a single singer accompanied by harpsichordist Katarzyna Kowalik and the renowned players of the Dunedin Consort.
The production is very much female led. The cantatas will be performed in a new English translation by librettist Toria Banks, who co-founded Hera. She uses this new interpretation to explore the importance of reinventing the old and finding contemporary relevance in ancient works.
Out of her Mouth is directed by Mathilde López, artistic director of August 012 theatre company. The cantatas will be performed by sopranos Carolyn Sampson, Anna Dennis and Alys Roberts. In each piece the singer will tell the story by taking on the voice and perspective of the different characters: girls, women, husbands, fathers and kings.
“Full of character, story and emotion, the pieces are Baroque operas but smaller, using only beguiling music and the skill of the performer to draw us in,” Mahogany Opera said in a statement.
Kowalik, López and Roberts were all selected via a highly competitive open-call process that took place in the summer. It attracted a huge number of talented artists.
The company added: “At Mahogany we’re committed to open, inclusive recruitment and selecting people by open call as much as possible, and we’ve found a dream team for this project!”
Out of her Mouth will receive its world premiere on 23 June 2023 at Universal Hall, Findhorn. It then tours to Platform, Glasgow, on 24 June 2023, Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh, on 25 June 2023, and will be part of Spitalfields Music Festival in London on 9 July 2023.
Soprano Alys Roberts, harpsichordist Katarzyna Kowalik and director Mathilde López were selected through an open call to become part of the team behind Out of Her Mouth, a new production by Mahogany Opera that will receive its world premiere in June 2023.