Written amidst the chaos of the French Revolution by composer and violinist Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint–George, the first popular composer of color, “The Anonymous Lover” is famous for its place in history as the last surviving opera of Bologne.
It tells the passionate love story of a young, wealthy French widow named Léontine who is sent anonymous letters and gifts by her friend and lover Valcour who is of a lower social class but desperately in love with Léontine who, after a dispassionate marriage to her late husband, has lost faith in love.
Afraid of failing to capture Léontine’s love and to cure her disenchantment, Valcour begins sending her anonymous letters and gifts. As the music unfolds, friends are introduced, letters are sent, gifts are received and the question is asked “He loves me. Who is he?”
Léontine learns to fall in love and a comedy ensues until true love is realized.
According to Kathryn Smith, general director of Madison Opera, the show was chosen to hold a unique part in their productions this year — “The Anonymous Lover” was neglected for almost two centuries and is the oldest and newest opera in their collection this season.
A classical Valentine’s piece, The Anonymous Lover first premiered in France in 1780 and has since realized many productions in the American opera scene, including the Boston Lyric Opera, Opera America and Los Angeles Opera. This weekend, it is brought to Madison by Madison Opera, a non-profit professional opera company based here in Madison.
“Although widely acclaimed during his lifetime, [Bologne’s] works were neglected and lost in the 19th and 20th centuries, so it is a pleasure to finally share his music with the [Madison] community. “The Anonymous Lover” is a delightful romantic comedy and the perfect antidote to dreary winter weather.” Smith told the Badger Herald in an email.
The show is said to be sung in French with English dialogue and projected English translations. It is enjoyable for all ages.
The cast includes Keely Futterer as Léontine and David Blalock as Valcourm, both of whom have performed in various shows before and with much success.
Futterer is known for her roles in Rodelinda, The Daughter of the Regiment, Silent Night and a few others and Blalock for his role in Rigoletto, The Magic Flute and Glory Denied of the several he has performed.
“The Anonymous Lover” is expected to play in the Capitol Theater on Feb. 2 and Feb. 4 .
The tickets sell at a special price of $20 for students beginning on Friday morning at 11 a.m. Students can purchase tickets at the box office by presenting a student ID. Tickets can also be purchased online at a regular price on the Overture Center website.