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Boston Early Music Festival: Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise

Boston Early Music Festival / Online / Stage

All-virtual, the 21st edition of the biennial Boston Early Music Festival—titled “Music of Solace & Joy”—lays on a lavish banquet of more than a dozen exclusive, newly filmed concerts, but its “Centerpiece Opera” (so advertised) dates back to 2017. It’s a resurrection of André Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise, a hybrid opéra-ballet first performed in 1699 and shelved for centuries. As filmed at the jewel-box Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, the show hits the mark in both its constituent art forms. The stage pictures are as colorful, various, and evocative as the palette of the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, a virtuoso every one. The huge cast assembles innately histrionic personalities from every walk of life, sumptuously dressed in silks and satins, not to mention the odd cloak and dagger, tossing like ships on the puffs and gusts and gales of their emotions. And, oh, can these people dance, which they do at the drop of a three-cornered hat. After all, it’s carnival time in Venice! (Note the frozen canals!) Of the two superb prima donnas, Karina Gauvin is the tragic, stately one, while the piquant Amanda Forsythe will have you eating out of her virtual hand. For good measure, there’s even a burlesque opera-within-the-opera, on the ever-popular theme of Orpheus in hell. —M.G.

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