It’s not often that we get to experience a 19th-century operatic work before anyone else. But this Friday, that chance comes to Beverly Hills.
After vanishing from the public eye for 150 years, the original manuscript of Pauline García Viardot’s Le Dernier Sorcier (The Last Sorcerer) was acquired by Harvard Library, which gave The Wallis’ Artist-in-Residence Camille Zamora permission to transcribe, publish, record, and perform the work, with her English-language narration punctuating the sung performance story-book-style. Viardot wrote this masterwork salon opera in 1867, centering themes of environmentalism and gender equality through a whimsical comic tale and poignant melodies. Written on a libretto by her lover, the great Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev, the work is a feminist eco-fable in operatic form and perfectly timed to kick off Women’s History Month. Here’s a sneak preview from YouTube, or learn more on the production website:
Zamora, along with Monica Yunus (pictured above) are the co-founders of Sing for Hope, a non-profit arts organization harnessing the power of the arts to create a better world. The Last Sorcerer at The Wallis marks the first Sing for Hope production and the premiere of Viardot’s work in its original form, with an all-star cast featuring Babatunde Akinboboye (a longtime favorite in the Listerhood) in the title role, Monica Yunus as the bold young Stella, Camille Zamora as the majestic Reine, Adriana Zabala as the dashing Prince Lelio, Karim Sulayman as Perlimpinpin, longtime Lister soprano Anastasia Malliaras as Verveine, and Los Angeles Children’s Chorus’ Chamber Singers (Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Artistic Director) in the central role of the magical woodland Fairies.
With musical direction by Lucy Tucker Yates and stage co-direction by Camille Zamora and Sharyn Pirtle, The Last Sorcerer will feature acclaimed Emmy-nominated Monique Coleman (star of Disney’s High School Musical and more) as Narrator.