Gil Rose’s love for opera began when he was a teen growing up in western Pennsylvania. “I lived in an area of the country where there was no access to live opera, so the first memories I have of it are buying recordings.” Rose moved to Boston 25 years ago because of the city’s strong music scene. “I’ve stayed ever since, and been involved with orchestras, opera companies and schools—pretty much the whole gamut of the Boston musical experience.” Currently, Rose is the director and conductor for Odyssey Opera, which he founded in 2013. “The opera world has a pattern of playing the same operas over and over.…Odyssey Opera is dedicated to producing operas that you wouldn’t otherwise hear.”
On September 16, Odyssey Opera embarks on season-long exploration of the Hundred Years’ War and its most remarkable combatant, Joan of Arc. “Joan of Arc has been a rich resource for composers over the centuries,” says Rose, who calculates that there are at least 25 operas that deal with some aspect of the Hundred Years’ War. “She is a blank slate in a way.…If you want a feminist, she was a feminist. If you want a spiritual leader, she was a spiritual leader.”
The season opens with a concert performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orléans. “Every September since we have formed, Odyssey Opera has opened the season with a big, grand opera in concert.…The Maid of Orléans was always on my shortlist for that slot.” Known today for his ballets The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky was also a prolific opera composer. “This opera in particular is attractive to first-time opera-goers because it’s full of sweeping melodies and big choral writing—a very flashy, virtuosic piece full of bravura.”
While The Maid of Orléans is performed as a concert, the four remaining operas in the season are either semi- or fully-staged productions. “We put everything into providing the most scintillating musical experience we can,” says Rose. “Any one of these five operas this season will be of interest, even to those who have not yet experienced live opera.…You just have to go and let your hair be blown back by the experience.”
The Maid of Orléans
September 16 at 7:30 p.m. at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., 617-826-1626, odysseyopera.org. $25–100.