BREMF Early Opera
At Brighton Early Music Festival we’ve been pushing the boundaries of what makes a unique and interesting event since our inaugural festival in 2002. We’ve also been committed to supporting young artists right from the start, with more than 200 people having passed through our BREMF Live! artist development scheme.
Since 2015 we have been exploring stage works from the birth of opera, and the one that’s stayed with us is the earliest opera by a female composer – Francesca Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero, written in 1625. After a fantastic production in 2015, we knew we just had to revisit Ruggiero, and to create something more long-lasting which would bring Caccini’s wonderful and witty work to a wider audience.
Working with director Thomas Guthrie and a talented cast of young singers and instrumentalists, we will explore, rehearse and film La liberazione di Ruggiero this July at the University of Sussex. Tom’s vision for the film will echo the style of the early 20th century film pioneer Georges Méliès.
Why Free Ruggiero?
Opera is an expensive medium, and film even more so, and Brighton Early Music Festival is a reasonably small-scale organisation (though we like to think we punch above our weight). So you might well ask: why this project? And why now? Here are 4 reasons, and we think they’re quite compelling…
1. To provide vital training for young artists in the field of early opera.
The very earliest operas require a specific approach and technique, which isn’t generally taught in UK music colleges. Our experience of working in this field has shown us that there’s a real gap in provision, and that young performers are keen to learn the skills which are applicable to this repertoire.
“As a primarily baroque singer I feel there is a lack of education of this style in the UK as opposed to the rest of Europe.” 2020 BREMF Early Opera participant
2. To support the arts sector after the dreadful year of cancellations in 2020.
The past year has been a challenging experience for anyone working in the arts, and that’s especially true for young artists at the start of their careers. As the sector starts to get back on its feet and performances tentatively restart, this is still a fragile time, particularly for those whose careers were only just getting established at the start of 2020. Our project will provide employment, training, and a nurturing environment, and will hopefully lead to a UK-wide tour in 2022.
3. To draw attention to this important work by a female composer.
In the 1620s, Francesca Caccini was the highest paid musician at the Medici court in Florence, and her works were held in high esteem. But over the following 400 years she’s almost faded from memory and her works are rarely performed. We want to change that and bring Caccini back into the spotlight where she belongs.
4. To produce something innovative, that will stand the test of time.
Of course, being at a live performance is a uniquely moving experience, but its impact is limited to the people who were able to be in a particular location at a particular time. Producing a film will enable us to reach a wider audience across the globe and will mean Ruggiero can come to you, wherever you are. It will also provide an important resource for researchers studying the music of Francesca Caccini.
“Go and see anything BREMF does. You wont regret it, and you might just walk away feeling like you’ve had a missing part of your soul handed back to you.” BN1 Magazine
How you can help
We need your help to bring Ruggiero to the screen, and anything you can give will be greatly appreciated. As well as knowing you’re helping us bring this extraordinary project to fruition, we’re also going to be producing some exciting items of Free Ruggiero merchandise as a thank you for donors.
For donations of £25 and above – we’ll thank you on our social media channels.
For donations of £50 and above – we’ll thank you on social media, and send you a unique Free Ruggiero pin badge, featuring Kate Benjamin’s iconic mermaid design.
For donations of £100 and above – as well as thanks on social media, we’ll send you a Free Ruggiero tote bag, featuring the mermaid design.
For donations of £250 and above – of course we’ll thank you on our social channels, but in addition we’ll send you a limited edition DVD of the Ruggiero film as a permanent memento.