So far in this year's Spoleto coverage, we've focused quite a bit on the fest's heavier subject matter — mainly how the tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel will be incorporated into the festival and how Charleston's racial issues of the Porgy and Bess-era are very much with us today. Today, though, we'll back away a bit. Spoleto is not a somber affair. It is a lively celebration of the arts.
And this year, you will be hard pressed to find a work that is as lively as "La Double Coquette," an opéra comique about a female cross-dresser, her lover, and the seductress that woos him away. Performed by France's Amarillis Ensemble, "La Double Coquette" is a reworking of Antoine Dauvergne's 1753 comic opera "La Coquette Trompée," and it features a brisk, lighthearted, and occasionally whimsical score — at least based on the selections I've heard. (I would imagine that the opera's one hour and 15-minute running time will only further contribute to the "La Double's" welcoming lightness, as will the Lego-by-way-of-Wonderland costume designs of award-winning designer Annette Messenger.)
"La Double" has already been performed in Shanghai, China, and Paris, France, where it premiered just days after the Bataclan terrorist attack. The show was so good that one reviewer raved, "This combination of old and new is so well done that one sometimes hardly hears the transitions, so big they might be. In fact, this revision is working far better than Pei’s pyramids at the Louvre ... The delicious comedy was brought to life by the terrific Amarillis Ensemble and three singers who deserve highest praise. Sopranos Isabelle Poulenard and Maïlys de Villoutreys as well as tenor Robert Getchell were vocally flawless and their playing was awesome."
Hyperbole? Well, I guess, we'll have to see. But this is an opéra comique we're talking about here, so it would behoove us all to lighten up and let our ears fill up with Amarillis Ensemble's laughter.