Artemisia: an opera by Laura Schwendinger, libretto by Ginger Strand

One of the greatest Baroque painters, Artemisia Gentileschi built a stunning career at a time when women were property. Our opera is based on original documents. We have a trial transcript where Artemisia's father accuses an assistant, Agostino Tassi, of raping his daughter. (Artemisia upheld her story under torture; Tassi was convicted.) We have 13 letters Artemisia wrote late in life to a client, showing her as ambitious, charismatic, and bold. And we have her paintings, their dramatic staging and lighting used to convey psychological truth. By having figures emerge from the paintings and meld their stories with Artemisia's, we aimed to recreate the rich inner landscape of a brilliant artist. (Scroll down for links to complete performances.)

Artemisia lasts just 80 minutes, but fits in big themes set to music of quivering intensity. The story of the rape is there, blended with Gentileschi's unbearably compassionate painting of the biblical character Susanna, who was ogled and shamed in her bath. But larger questions of idea and form, image and projection, sight and gaze also find nuanced and intelligent treatment.”
                               —Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

“Schwendinger's score and Ginger Strand's story not only casts its spell but awakens us again to the continuing conflict of men, women and art that has pervaded western history.”
                               —Lois Silverstein, OperaWire


Trinity NOVUS Time's Arrow Festival
Orchestral premiere
St. Paul's Chapel, New York City, March 2019
Stage director: Christopher Alden
Conductor: Lidiya Yankovskaya

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
Chamber version premiere
Z Space, San Francisco, CA, May 2019
Stage director: Jenn BeVard
Conductor: Matilda Hofman

© 2008 Ginger Strand. Website design by Caroline Caldwell Design