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“The Reflections of Memory” | Gilbert Blin, Opera Director | Boston Early Music Festival
Thursday • November 11, 2021 | 12:00 pmFree
“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
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
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.