“The Reflections of Memory”
Description: Gilbert Blin, Opera Director of the Boston Early Music Festival, presents his research into the Historically Informed Performance of operas from the 17th and 18th century: he argues that opera is not only a musical genre but a combinative form which can only achieve its full identity during a staged performance. Through various examples Dr. Blin shows that while the stage director must overview the expressive functionalities of opera crafts and arts, his main task is to create a new spatial interpretation of the piece based on the moment of its first performance and its relevance to the time and space of the present performance. To define this approach, he balances the notion of authenticity of parts with the more dynamic notion of authenticities in the relationships between parts.
GILBERT BLIN, BEMF Opera Director, Stage Director, Set Designer, Young Artists Training Program Director, studied Theater History and Stage Direction at the Sorbonne in Paris. Upon graduating in 1986, he concentrated on Rameau’s operas and their relation to the stage, an interest that has since broadened to encompass French opera and Baroque theater, his fields of expertise as historian, stage director, and designer. His opera productions have been described by the American press as “revelatory,” “delightful,” “lavish,” “gorgeous,” “stunning,” and “extraordinarily moving.”
For his opera début, Gilbert Blin directed masterpieces of the French repertoire. For the Opéra de Nancy in 1991, he directed Massenet’s Werther, a production he also staged at the OpéraComique in Paris in 1994, with Laurent Petitgirard conducting. He also directed Delibes’s Lakmé for the same house in 1995, a production repeatedly revived in France until 2000. In 1996, he was dramaturge for Bizet’s Carmen, directed by David Radok, at the Royal Opera of Copenhagen. In 1999, Mr. Blin was the first French stage director invited by the Prague State Opera: his production of Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable, with musical direction by Vincent Monteil, has been performed for many seasons.
His staged realizations of operas of 18th century include Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice for the Drottningholm Theatre, with Arnold Östman conducting, in 1992 and 1998, a newly designed and directed 2001 production of Vivaldi’s Orlando furioso for the State Opera of Prague, and a 2003 reconstruction of Vivaldi’s Rosmira fedele for the Opéra de Nice. Returning to the latter house in 2007, Gilbert Blin designed the staging, sets, costumes, and lights of his acclaimed production of Handel’s Teseo, conducted by Gilbert Bezzina, and in 2012, he directed and designed a production of Alessandro Scarlatti’s Il Tigrane. Mr. Blin has been working on reconstructing the original sets and costumes of Mozart operas: with Czech stage director Lubor Cukr, he presented Don Giovanni at the Prague Estates Theatre in 2006 and 2016, and Le nozze di Figaro at Opéra de Nice in 2008.
Gilbert Blin made his American début with the Boston Early Music Festival in 2001 by directing a production of Lully’s Thésée. Returning to BEMF in 2007, he directed Lully’s Psyché with musical directors Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs. Mr. Blin became Boston Early Music Festival’s Stage Director in Residence in 2008, and directed and designed the sets for Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe, the 2011 Festival opera. For the 2013 Boston Early Music Festival, he presented Handel’s Almira to great acclaim. Following his production of L’incoronazione di Poppea for the 2009 Festival, Mr. Blin staged Monteverdi’s Orfeo in 2012 and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria in 2015. This “Monteverdi Trilogy” was presented in 2015 in Boston.
To inaugurate the BEMF Chamber Opera Series in 2008, Gilbert Blin staged Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Charpentier’s Actéon. For the same series, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Handel’s Acis and Galatea were presented in Boston in 2009 and 2010. Gilbert Blin returned in 2011 to the French repertoire of the 17th century and created a production pairing Charpentier’s La Couronne de Fleurs and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. Consequently, he also served as drama coach for the Grammy-winning recording of these Charpentier’s masterpieces by Paul O’Dette and Stephen Stubbs. In 2014, Gilbert Blin offered a pasticcio uniting Pergolesi’s two comic masterpieces, La serva padrona and Livietta e Tracollo. In 2016 he created a production linking Charpentier’s Les Plaisirs de Versailles with Lalande’s Les Fontaines de Versailles. This Versailles production was revived for the 2019 Boston Early Music Festival.
Gilbert Blin has been a Researcher at Leiden University’s Academy for Creative and Performing Arts since 2014; with an account of his cognitive approach to Historically Informed staging, and more specifically for his work in Boston, he obtained his doctorate in 2018, under the supervision of Professors Ton Koopman and Frans de Ruiter. Due to his work in both the theory and practice of his field of research, Mr. Blin has been invited to teach at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, the Royal Conservatoire The Hague, The Juilliard School of New York, and the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2011, for the Boston Early Music Festival, he founded the Young Artists Training Program, an educational structure that he has directed since.
Recent productions for Boston Early Music Festival include Campra’s Le Carnaval de Venise for the 2017 Festival, Francesca Caccini’s Alcina for the Chamber Opera Series in 2018, and Steffani’s Orlando generoso for the 2019 Festival.
Gilbert Blin is the Opera Director of the Boston Early Music Festival.