Ensemble Molière at the Brighton Early Music Festival

Ensemble Moliere
Ensemble Moliere

Ensemble Molière will take Jean-Philippe Rameau’s opera Pygmalion to the streets of 21st-century Paris in a new staging by emerging director Karolina Sofulak.

A cast of young singers performs alongside a newly-commissioned animated film by Kate Anderson, which provides the scenery and replaces traditional surtitles with simplified texts.

This bite-sized opera can be enjoyed by people of any age, with no experience of watching opera required, the company promise.

They bring the show to the Brighton Early Music Festival on October 28 and 29 at 3pm in the Sallis Benney Theatre. The piece was seen in London in June; now it gets a south-coast airing.

Satoko Doi-Luck (musical director, harpsichord) explains: “We are a chamber music group usually, French baroque music that is rarely played in the UK. Our aim is to perform this music and so spread our love for French baroque.

“People might think that it is stuffy. It has lots of decorations and quite complicated harmonies. The structure of the music is quite interwoven. It is quite complicated for us as players, but it is good for the audience to understand, and the music is so beautiful that we just love it and want to share it.

“This is our first opera. This is not like your usual operas, two or three hours long. This is 45-50 minutes. It is a really short opera and really accessible to new opera audiences.

“It is nice to have a short one to give people a taste of the music and show that it can be really accessible. We have commissioned animations projected onto the back of the stage. The singer sings in front of them – acting in front of the screen.”

The production features Josh Cooter (tenor) as Pygmalion, Roberta Diamond (soprano) as Céphise, Angela Hicks (soprano) as La Statue and Rosalie Wahlfrid (dancer/actor) as L’Amour.

The musicians will be Flavia Hirte – flute; Alice Earll – violin; Jakab Kaufmann – bassoon; Kate Conway – viola da gamba/cello; and Satoko Doi-Luck – harpsichord.

“We will be joined by a further two musicians, Oonagh Lee and Ellen Bundy, to bolster our forces for this magnificent opera.

“Rameau’s opera tells the story of Pygmalion, an artist who creates an incredible statue of a beautiful woman. He becomes infatuated with the statue, begging Venus to bring her to life much to the dismay of his partner Céphise.

“Magically the statue comes alive! The Graces teache her to dance, to sing and to understand the world and ultimately Pygmalion and the statue fall in love with each other. And, in order to tie up loose ends, Cupid finds Céphise a new partner and everyone lives happily ever after!”

Ensemble Molière was formed by participants of the Dartington International Summer School and is based in London with performers from Japan, the UK, Germany and Australia. The ensemble have performed throughout the UK and Europe including performances at the MAfestival fringe in Brugge and the Oudemuziek fringe in Utrecht.

2017 has seen the ensemble make their debut at the London Festival of Baroque Music as part of their Future Artists Scheme and compete as finalists in the International Young Artists Competition at the York Early Music Festival.

They have also recorded their first EP, a collection of French baroque dance movements entitled Dance Sweets, which will be available to buy in late 2017.