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Baroque Masterpieces Distilled for Now

Jeffrey Mandelbaum, Artistic Director

Opera Essentia’s mission is to curate performances which expose a miraculous 18th century sound world. The music of Handel has such extraordinary beauty and variety, often written in dance forms, that it can captivate an unsuspecting listener. We hope to propagate this essential legacy, while enriching a new generation of audiences.

We have chosen the garden as our setting, as it welcomes all, and is a refuge from everything outside…

Photos from our recent production of Orlando: Hero of Love:
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View the embedded image gallery online at:
https://gemsny.org/events/opera-essentia#sigProId450bcadd75

In distilling Handel's Orlando down to its essential components, we are shedding away traditional theatrical formulas — presenting contemporary audiences with something concentrated and archetypal, that matches Handel's sound world.

As pure poetry, our language is stylized, so our physicality takes on a simpler mode of expression, employing greater stillness. The da capo aria is the perfect metaphor — linear time slows into emotional blocks, which shift sideways, then repeat, giving the characters space to explore their psychic journeys.

Our performances are historically informed — we use baroque instruments, with gut strings, which convey a warm, dimensional tambre. We fill out our vocal performances with thoughtful ornamentation, in keeping with the style of the period.

This magnificent music is undeniable, and cries out for exposure to new listeners. We hope our "Opera in the Garden" will intrigue initiates strolling by, who might never enter an opera house.

All Performances Are Free!

Orlando Flyer


All Donations to Opera Essentia are most welcome!

Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

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GEMS is a non-profit corporation that supports and promotes the artists and organizations in New York devoted to early music— the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical periods.