Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble Previews Whitney George & Bea Goodwin’s ‘Princess Maleine’

By David Salazar

Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble previewed its upcoming “Princess Maleine” by librettist Bea Goodwin and composer Whitney George at a private event on Jan. 17, 2019.

The event revealed sections from the opera’s libretto as well as one of the titular character’s arias, sung by Elyse Kakacek, who will originate the role. In this very brief preview of the work (which is very much in progress, as noted by the company’s Artistic Director Fecteau), there were suggestions of  traditional forms of operatic classics with arias, duets, and even a drinking song; Goodwin noted that in her estimation, “every great opera has a drinking song.” There is iambic pentameter and lush poetry in the excerpts presented. 

In his own presentation of the opera Fecteau noted that the opera’s development will be the true equivalent of “birthing a child. We are taking nine months from conception to completion of this world premiere.”

The opera was inspired by Lili Boulanger’s own setting of “La Princesse Maleine,” an opera that was sadly lost after her death. When Fecteau related the work to George and Goodwin, he could suddenly “see a spark lit in their eyes as I talked about the work.” They haven’t stopped working on the opera since and are planning more previews and workshops of opera in the buildup to the August 2019 world premiere. 

“It will be the latest opera by a female composer at the time of its premiere,” Fecteau noted, also emphasizing that this season Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble will also present the first opera in recorded history to be composed by a woman, “La Liberazione di Ruggiero.”