One-woman opera “Emilie” celebrates female philosopher, physicist & mathematician

Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia


VIVE! Ensemble, conducted by Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia, will perform the Midwest American premiere of the opera “Emilie,” by Kaija Saariaho, on Thursday April 5, 2018 at 6 p.m. at Kobacker Hall, Bowling Green State University. Soprano Hillary LaBonte will star and sing the role of Emilie.

The renowned opera Emilie is based on Emilie de Chatelet, a French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and female author who was born in France and lived in the early 18th century. Her most recognized achievement is the translation of and commentary on Isaac Newton’s book “Principia,” work that contains the well-known laws of physics.

Based in Paris, France, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho sets her music to the libretto by Lebanese author Amin Maalouf in this 90-minute monodrama for soprano, chamber orchestra and electronics composed in 2010. The work explores the last moments of Emilie’s life prior to her death due to childbirth during the period that she is writing the translation of Newton’s book.

VIVE! Ensemble, founded by conductor Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia, is a collective of performers and guest artists dedicated to bringing new compositions and revived versions of standard repertory works to broader audiences. Since its inception in 2015 the ensemble has performed chamber versions of the “Rite of Spring,” “Afternoon of a Faun,” and Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” amongst many other works. They are engaged for a tour this coming spring and summer to perform a program of premieres of emerging American composers in Cincinnati, Nashville, and Dallas.