Reconstruction Royer's Le Pouvoir de l'Amour
What does a musical director do when a 260-year-old opera is incomplete? This was the challenge faced by Professor of Harpsichord Lisa Goode-Crawford in bringing the French baroque opera-ballet Le Pouvoir de l'Amour (The Power of Love) by Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer to life, in performances in Finney Chapel in February 2002.

Conrad Co-produced by the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (CMBV) and supported by a grant from the Florence Gould Foundation, the idea to perform Le Pouvoir de l'Amour originated in 1979 when Crawford took leave from Oberlin to study Royer's harpsichord works. The result: a critical edition of Royer's Pieces de clavecin, as well as an abiding interest in Royer's opera-ballets, virtually unknown today. "Royer's works have remained in libraries ­ unedited, unperformed, and for the most part unexamined," says Crawford. She received another research status grant in 2000 to complete work on the opera edition, and make preparations for the production.

Three performance scores of Le Pouvoir de l'Amour are extant ­ in the libraries of the city of Versailles and at the Paris Opera. None of them, however, includes instrumental parts. In French operas of this period, the music played by the violas is usually absent from the published score, necessitating the challenging task of reconstruction for modern performance. During much of 2001, Gerard Geay, chercheur at the CMBV, did just that for Le Pouvoir de l'Amour, using as models the inner parts from other operas by Royer and his contemporaries.

Other mysteries remained. "Another chorus was only hinted at in the music score. It was only when I discovered the printed libretto that I found that the chorus was present in the scene," says Crawford. "So, Gerard wrote the inner parts for that as well."

The cast included Conservatory stu- dents, as well as professional singers, instrumentalists, and dancers, many Oberlin alumni, and featured several significant collaborations. Olivier Schneebeli, Director of the Choir of the CMBV, instructed the opera chorus in French baroque styles of declamation. Catherine Turocy, Artistic Director of the New York Baroque Dance Company, created the choreography, and members of the company joined the production. Rhetorician Patricia Ranum instructed the cast in declamation of the text.

Victoria Vaughan, Assistant Director of Oberlin Opera Theatre, was stage director and harpsichordist Michael Sponseller '97, was associate music director.

Crawford's critical edition of the opera, including the reconstructed parts by Geay, is to be published by the CMBV.

- Charity Lofthouse '99

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