Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rare performance of Thérèse by Jules Massenet with hunky Aaron Ball

Aaron Ball
This post is a series of firsts for us. The first time that we've featured the opera Thérèse by Jules Massenet. The first appearance of barihunk Aaron Ball on this site. The first time that we've featured an opera performance in Riverside, California.

For us lovers of everything baritone, Massenet wrote some amazing low voice roles, especially in Hérodiade, Werther, Le Cid, Thaïs, Manon and most notably in Don Quichotte (which was written for the great Feodor Chaliapin). When we saw the poster for Thérèse, the first thing that caught our eye was Aaron Ball and the second was the cast of one mezzo, one tenor and TWO baritones.

Thérèse takes place during the French Revolution and concerns a heroine who is torn between duty and affection, between her husband André Thorel and her lover, the nobleman Armand de Clerval. Although she had decided to follow her lover into exile, when her husband is being led to execution she shouts "Vive le roi!" (Long live the king!) amid the frenzied crowd and is dragged to her husband's side and marched to the guillotine.

Thérèse was first performed at the Opéra in Monte Carlo on February 7, 1907. Although it's been periodically revived, opera lovers today probably know the piece from a 1973 recording with the underappreciated Huguette Tourangeau under the baton of Richard Bonynge. The opera will be performed on April 24 at the Hole Memorial Auditorium at La Sierra University. Visit the school's website for additional information. This performance will be followed by one on Saturday, April 27 at 8 pm at Pasadena City College.

According to his bio, American baritone Aaron Ball has "one foot in the motion picture industry and one foot on the stage." He studied with tenor Kevin St. Clair, who also appears in this performance, as well as with baritone Douglas Nagel. He recently appeared in the U.S. premiere of Gabriela Ortiz's Camelia la Tajana at the Long Beach Opera. You can also catch him in Paul Bunnell's 2012 film, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the cast features one mezzo-soprano, not soprano. There's not a soprano to be found in this production! That in itself is yet another rarity.

    Thérèse is a beautiful piece that we feel needs to be heard live to be fully appreciated. This performance will be followed by one on Saturday, April 27 at 8PM at Pasadena City College - perhaps a closer drive for some LA opera aficionados. It's at Harbeson Hall and admission is free! If you can't make either of these performances, future performance dates and venues are in the works - but these are special, since they mark the first complete performance of Thérèse in the US!

    If you'd like to follow the progress of what we're calling The Thérèse Project, check out our website at for more information and updates.