Rarely performed opera "San Ignacio" coming to Fairfield University

Rarely performed opera "San Ignacio" coming to Fairfield University

The Fairfield University Catholic Studies program presents "San Ignacio," a rare and beautiful Baroque chamber opera from the ancient Jesuit missions of Paraguay, on Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. The performances mark only the second time "San Ignacio" has been performed in the United States in recent years, making this a must-see for music lovers. Tickets are on sale now.

Written by 18 th -century Italian composer Domenico Zipoli, "San Ignacio" will be performed in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola. The performance includes six singers from Ensemble Abendmusik under the direction of John Finney, musical director and associate conductor of the Handel & Haydn Society of Boston. T. Frank Kennedy, S.J., a Boston College professor who specializes in Latin American Jesuit music, will introduce the work with a short lecture.

"Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies is privileged and delighted to be hosting two performances of this remarkable opera," said Paul Lakeland, Ph.D., chair, Catholic Studies program.

Zipoli, a young musician from Prato, Italy, entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1716 in Seville, Spain, in order to travel to the New World to work in the famous Jesuit Reductions of Paraguay. Jesuit missionaries created communal mission villages in South America to provide a settlement and refuge for the tribes in Paraguay and Brazil, who had been enslaved by Spanish colonists in the early 1500s.

Already a noted composer and organist, Zipoli spent the rest of his life in Cordoba (now Argentina), studying theology and composing until his death in 1726. His chamber opera "San Ignacio" is a musical work that became emblematic of the whole Jesuit missionary experience in Paraguay and, indeed, the world.

The music for the work was composed in collaboration with Swiss-born Martin Schmid and a third unknown composer. Scholars believe the third collaborator may well have been one of the indigenous musicians of the Chiquito townships where the score is believed to have been assembled in the second quarter of the 18 th century.

The opera is in two acts: Act I portrays the response of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, to God's call and Act II narrates the sending of Francis Xavier, who would become one of the Church's great missionaries, to the Far East to spread the gospel of Jesus. The opera incarnates many of the central themes of Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, prompting consideration of the eternal questions of human identity - Who am I? Whose am I? Who am I called to be?

This 21 st -century production of "San Ignacio," last performed in April in Rome as part of the Jesuit Jubilee Year festivities, is an attempt to enter once again into that mystery. In many senses, the work is an homage that was traditionally performed at annual patronal feasts in Bolivian towns and in the presence of visiting dignitaries during the Colonial period.

It is a fitting commemoration of the Jesuit Jubiliee Year, during which Jesuit institutions around the world are marking the 450 th anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius Loyola in 1540 and the 500 th anniversary of the births of St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Peter Faber, who promoted the Spiritual Exercises throughout Western Europe.

"This is one of the highlights of Fairfield's year-long celebration of the Jesuit Jubilee, and represents in its own right an unparalleled opportunity to explore a beautiful and rare example of Baroque music," Dr. Lakeland said. We are fortunate and excited to bring this production to Fairfield County."

Tickets are $25, $5 for students, with discounts for faculty and staff. For tickets, call the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts box office at (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-ARTS-396.

Posted On: 08-25-2006 10:08 AM

Volume: 39 Number: 14