The Glorious Radiance of Tchaikovsky’s Music

By Robert Lyall

Of the eleven operatic works composed by Peter Tchaikovsky, for his sixth he chose a subject that was an attempt to participate in the immense popularity of French Grand Opera, one of the most commercially successful styles dominant in Europe throughout the 19th century. This specific style of writing viewed the subject of opera as based in history:

 “The identification of historical themes in the tragic repertory of grand opera—revolution, regicide, victimization, religion, patriotism, and the nation–loom large in its pages.” –Sarah Hibberd.

The Maid of Orléans recounts the life and amazing military career of Joan of Arc (1412-1431), whose victory ending the siege of Orléans in May 1429, helped bring to a close the Hundred Years War. Claiming that the divine voices of Saints Marguerite and Catherine and the Archangel Michael had directed her destiny, the seventeen-year-old warrior-maiden successfully led the French army in its efforts to drive the English and Burgundian forces from the homeland. For his largely historically accurate political narrative, Tchaikovsky drew basic material from Friedrich Schiller’s play, Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orléans). Serving as his own librettist Tchaikovsky took occasional liberties to heighten what is already a wildly operatic drama presented against that “grand” backdrop of “victimization, religion, patriotism, and nation” mentioned above. The result is truly French Grand Opera in spirit, tone, and style—from the grandeur of the Coronation scene, the religious fervor of Joan’s divine revelations, her widely-acclaimed bravery in battle, to her tragic end with an Inquisition trial whose horrifying verdict is that she die at the stake for heresy. While the added theatrical dynamic of Joan’s attraction to the Burgundian knight Lionel is almost certainly historically invalid, a love duet is readily recognizable as an essential operatic device to display the fullest emotional range of the individual characters—even one as virtuous as Joan. What is truly authentic is the glorious radiance of Tchaikovsky’s music.

The image above is a set rendering by designer, Stephen C. Kemp representing Act IV Scene II.

To see the cast listing and purchase tickets click here.


This production marks the American Premiere of the English Language Translation of Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc by Richard Balthazar.

Set rendering of Act II Scene II by Steven C. Kemp

RICHARD BALTHAZAR, Translator:  Being the first Russian major at Tulane (class of ’64), prepared Richard for translating Tchaikovsky’s opera Joan of Arc (twice), and for graduate study and teaching briefly.  After many decades working in nonprofit arts administration around the country, in later life he took to peddling “used” (recycled) plants at the Farmers Market in Santa Fe NM.  On retiring in 2013, Richard was finally able to focus on his long-time avocations of writing and art.  Besides several books and memoirs, his ongoing project is a fairly weird informational art show called YE GODS!  Icons of Aztec Deities.

We express appreciation to the Music Library of the Canadian Opera Company for the use of some of their production materials.

Social Media Contact Form

If you wish to be tagged in pictures, videos, and posts on our Social Media, please provide the following information (all fields optional):

Holiday Tea

The Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association invites you to a Holiday Tea!

December 15, 2019 

2PM

2504 Prytania St

New Orleans, LA 70115

Holiday cheer, an assortment of teas, scones, sandwiches, and sweets will be served.

Reservations are required and seating is limited.

$50 for Non-Members

$45 for Members

Click here for tickets

Student Passes are SOLD OUT for Carmen

STUDENT PASSES are temporarily SOLD OUT – sales will begin again immediately following Carmen.

There will be a Student Rush on Friday and Sunday – ALL available tickets are 1/2 off – one ticket/valid student ID.

FRIDAY, Box Office at Mahalia Jackson Theater opens at 6:00 p.m., Student Rush tickets available at 6:30 p.m. (far right window)

SUNDAY, Box Office at Mahalia Jackson Theater opens at 1:00, Student Rush tickets available at 1:30 p.m. (far right window)

3 operas for $30!!

This pass provides students with the best available tickets for New Orleans Opera performances ONLY at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. It can be used in any combination – all three tickets for one opera or one ticket for three operas!

Apply the Code: SPass on the Friday or Sunday Mainstage Series links. It will not work for the Full Series.

Click here to order your pass (you may combine it with regularly priced subscriptions).

This also entitles the pass holder to last-minute specials and deals for other events throughout the year.

Students must:

  • Purchase pass in advance.
  • Arrive at Theater no later than 1/2 hour prior to the performance.
  • You must present a school ID for each ticket redeemed.

Any and all students (K-12 + college/university students) can purchase a pass, teachers and parents who need help purchasing the pass for their students/children please contact the Box Office at 504-529-3000.

Your pass will be waiting for you in the Box Office at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on performance day. See you at the Opera!

After the Curtain Falls…

On stage at the Mahalia Jackson Theater

Join us for a Post Party celebrating the Opening Night of Carmen! October 4, 2019 after the 7:30 p.m. performance.

Get carried away by the opera then get on your feet to dance the habanera with music by Julio and Cesar!

Signature Cocktail thanks to Seven Three Distilling.

Passed hors d’oeuvres by Ralph Brennan’s Catering.

Tickets to this festive occasion are $35 per person. Tickets to the opera start at $30 and opera tickets are required to attend this special event.

The New Orleans Opera Association’s Wood Operatic Advancement Grant

The Wood Operatic Advancement Grant (the “WOAG”), a branch of the New Orleans Opera Association’s Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition (the “Wood Competition”), provides financial assistance to the winners of the Wood Competition to help them in pursuit of their career in the performance area of opera while studying in college or post-graduate studies. The WOAG was the idea of Phyllis Treigle, the Vocal Music Chair at the New Orleans Center of Creative Arts and set in motion by Debby Hirsch Wood (the Founder and Director of the Wood Competition).

The Grant is open only to winners (first, second, or honorable mention) of the Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition.

The purpose to which the grant will be applied is for expenses relating to the pursuit of the Wood Competition winners’ career in opera performance whether in college or post-graduate studies.

Expenses may include (but are not limited to) travel and related expenses for auditions, coaching, out-of-town studies, performances, college/post-college expenses, meals, or any and all expenses related in pursuit of their degree or career in opera performance. 

The WOAG is solely for the purpose of promoting up-and-coming opera performers.

  • Applications will be accepted for the Fall/Winter WOAG no later than midnight, September 30.   
  • The Fall/Winter WOAG period runs August 1 through January 31.
  • Applications will be accepted for the Spring/Summer WOAG no later than midnight, February 15.
  • The Spring/Summer period runs February 1 through July 31.

A team (chosen by the Director of the WOAG) from the New Orleans Opera Association (the “Team”) will decide recipient(s) of The Grant. The Team will announce the recipient(s) shortly after applications are reviewed and decisions made by the Team.

Any misrepresentation on the application or abuse of stipulation during funding period is cause for disqualification without benefit of appeal.

For more information please contact:

If given this grant, you will need to submit a follow-up brief email to the Founder and Director of The Grant on how the grant empowered you to pursue your operatic vocal career. Your email will be used by the New Orleans Opera Association/Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition.

You may contact Ms. Wood at (504) 931-3608 with any questions.

Winners of the Donald W. Wood, Sr. Vocal Competition by year.

The competition is presented by the New Orleans Opera Association, a collaborative effort with Loyola University New Orleans College of Music and Fine Arts and Preparatory Program, Tulane University, Newcomb Department of Music, and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in honor of Donald W. Wood, Sr.

Special thanks to Sponsors Lily and Brian Monk, and Wood Competition Director Debby Hirsch Wood and to patrons Nina and Larry Pugh, Penny and Al Baumer, and Susan and Vern Raburn.

The Wood Competition is open to all Louisiana high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

2018 Winners

FIRST PLACE FEMALE: Olivia Belle Gray, a Junior at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

FIRST PLACE MALE: Dade Michael Dufrene, a Senior at Hahnville High School (Boutte, Louisiana), Teacher: Craig Matherne

SECOND PLACE FEMALE: Sarah-Katherine McCallum, a Senior at Cedar School (Ruston, Louisiana), Teacher: Claire Vangelisti

SECOND PLACE MALE: Julian Maccrea Revell, Senior at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Kieva Ja’Lisa Banks, a Junior at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

Lauren A. Albano, a Sophomore at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

Andrew David Aceves, a Senior at St. Paul’s High School (Covington, Louisiana), Teacher: Gail Adams 4. Ashton Louis Stephens, a Senior at Holy Cross High School (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Meredith Hotard

2017 Winners

FIRST PLACE FEMALE: Abigail Victoria Roques, Sophomore, Pensacola Christian School (Slidell, Louisiana), Teacher: Joy Meade

SECOND PLACE FEMALE: Olivia Belle Gray, Junior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

FIRST PLACE MALE: Rafael Jose Rovelo, Senior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

SECOND PLACE MALE: William Nicholas Dopp, Senior, Loranger High (Loranger, Louisiana), Teacher: Steven Rushing

HONORABLE MENTIONs:

Madeleine Eugenie Cucullu, Junior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (New Orleans, Louisiana), Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

Conrad J. Alleman, IISenior, Hahnville High School, (Boutte, Louisiana), Teacher Craig Matherne

2016 Winners

FIRST PLACE FEMALE: Victoria Elizabeth Richard, Senior, Magnet Academy for Cultural Arts, Opelousas, Louisiana, Teacher: Corliss Smith

SECOND PLACE FEMALE: Sarah-Katherine McCallum, Sophomore, Cedar Creek School, Ruston, Louisiana, Teachers: Claire Vangelisti, Cindy Hockenjos

FIRST PLACE MALE: William Nicholas Dopp, Junior, Loranger High School, Loranger, Louisiana, Teacher: Brent Goodrich Smith

SECOND PLACE MALE: Andrew David Aceves, Sophomore, St. Paul’s School, Covington, Louisiana, Teacher: Gail Adams

HONORABLE MENTION: Madeleine Eugenie Cucullu, Sophomore, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

2015 Winners

FIRST PLACE FEMALE: Emily Sheets, Senior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

FIRST PLACE MALE: Ryan Reynolds, Senior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

SECOND PLACE FEMALE: Imani Sarai Francis, Senior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

SECOND PLACE MALE: Eddie Falshaw, Junior, Holy Cross/New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Teacher: Lauren Gisclair

HONORABLE MENTION: Lindsey Reynolds, Senior, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Teacher: Phyllis Treigle

Attention New Orleans performing arts lovers!

Now is your chance to be a supernumerary (like a TV extra, but in OPERA!) in arguably the most famous opera ever, Carmen! The New Orleans Opera Association wants to put YOU on the Mahalia Jackson Theater’s stage as a seductive soldier, tantalizing toreador, and sanguine Sevillian. 

For costume purposes, we are looking for “super” men with a 44″chest / 38″ waist or smaller. No singing or speaking is required. Rehearsals start September 16th with performances on October 4th and 6th.  Please contact Emily Barber at emilyxbarber@gmail.com for more information. We look forward to you joining us on Carmen!

Opera excitment was in the air!

The Sylvain Society hosted a Summer Seersucker Brunch to celebrate the opening of the 2019-2020 opera season on August 11, 2019. Guest speaker, General and Artistic Director, Robert Lyall shared insights about the new season and other exciting events on the horizon.

We think this was the first of many Summer Seersucker Brunches.

Thanks to everyone that attended and thank you Sylvain Society!

Are you interested in joining the Sylvain Society? Click here!