Saariaho: Émilie – a new opera :::: Schirmer News Winter 2009

Saariaho: Émilie – a new opera :::: Schirmer News Winter 2009
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Émilie du Châtelet is pregnant by her young lover, the poet Saint-Lambert, and soon to go into labour. She writes him a letter full of reflections and premonitions. It is one day since she finished her translation of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, four days before she will give birth to her daughter and nine days before she herself will die. She thinks not only of the nights of passion with Saint-Lambert and with Voltaire, her great love, but also of the end of their love and of death. How will she be remembered?

Émilie du Châtelet

In Kaija Saariaho's new monodrama, Émilie (an Opera in 9 scenes), we travel through the life story of Émilie du Châtelet — a life notable for her devotion to math, sciences and intellectual study, and the love and admiration of French philosopher, Voltaire. The libretto in French by Amin Maalouf, Saariaho’s frequent artistic partner, is composed in the form of letters to Voltaire, Saint-Lambert and her own inner dialogues. Émilie is portrayed by Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, for whom the work was composed, and is conducted by Kazushi Ono.

This third opera by Saariaho was commissioned by Opera de Lyon which presents the premiere performances beginning March 1, 2010, in a production by Francois Girard. Subsequent performances take place in Amsterdam with the Dutch National Opera.

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