Press Release: Women of Genius Premieres March 18th!

December 29, 2020: Les Délices honors Women’s History Month with a new online concert called Women of Genius that challenges the notion of the isolated “genius” to reveal the histories of female poets, performers, and composers who not only made their voices heard but exerted a stronger cultural influence than many realize.

Women of Genius premieres on Les Délices’ Watch Now Page on March 18, 2021 at 7:30pm EST and will include a live post-concert Q&A session with select artists. The program will be available to stream on-demand through March 29.

Les Délices’ upcoming program will expand the narrative to celebrate the contributions of remarkably accomplished, creative women in 17th and 18th century France. As Les Délices Artistic Director Debra Nagy explained, “Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre is far and away the best-known female composer from 18th Century France, but I’ve always been troubled by the notion of the “isolated genius” when it came to women’s contributions to the history of music. I knew that there was more to the story.”

One major issue in recovering the contributions of women artists is that so few of their works were published. As a result, researching this program often meant reading between the lines or in the margins for performer or poet’s names and even reviewing 18th century lists of Who’s Who. Despite limited published music, there’s a rich record of their accomplishments.

Besides music by Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Women of Genius will introduce the poet Marie de Louvencourt, composers Mademoiselle Duval and Julie Pinel, keyboard virtuoso Marie-Françoise Certain, and soprano Marguerite Louise Couperin. Nagy added, “These are the daughters, the nieces, and the cousins of musical families. They are poets, translators, and librettists for airs, cantatas, and operas. They are brilliant improvisers and arrangers whose celebrated performances were attested to but whose works were never published. They are singers, keyboard, and theorbo players whose intimate works impressed and delighted.” Several songs by Pinel and selections by Mademoiselle Duval were recorded for the very first time for this program.

Jacquet de la Guerre’s cantata on the Old Testament story of Judith and Holofernes is the highlight of the concert. Nagy explained, “her score captures an intense psychological drama in which Judith, a prisoner of war, confronts the difficult choice of preserving herself or her people.” Soprano Clara Rottsolk added, “Jacquet de la Guerre immerses us in a vivid story of the righteous assasination of a brutal and lusty conqueror at the hands of the least-powerful: the subjugated woman.”

Les Délices’ All-Virtual 2020-21 Season Embracing Change comprises two concurrent series: a ticketed virtual Concert Series of five programs and a free, live-streamed variety show called SalonEra. In addition, Les Délices is redesigning its outreach programs with two goals in mind: providing opportunities for respite and reflection during troubled times, and early-music themed educational programming designed for in-school or at-home learning.

Spring subscriptions ($60) and single tickets ($8-$20) are available via Les Délices’ website (www.lesdelices.org.)

Click here to read the full press release.