In August 2014, On Site Opera and The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice presented a workshop of Clarimonde, a new opera from composer Frédéric Chaslin and librettist P.H. Fisher. The workshop culminated with a public reading held in the gothic sanctuary of St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church (109 Main St, Phoenicia, NY 12464). Immediately following the performance, the audience participated in an open forum Q & A with the creative team and cast.
Clarimonde is an adaptation of Théophile Gautier’s La Morte Amoureuse (1836), a short story in the genre of the conte fantastique where science fiction, fantasy and magic realism merge. La Morte Amoureuse is a classic tale of the supernatural in which a young, handsome priest, Romualdo, falls in love with the beautiful vampiress Clarimonde, whom he first encounters on the day of his ordination ceremony. Clarimonde is not a neck-biting, ghoulish creature with fangs; rather, she is an exquisite, alluring courtesan who genuinely falls in love with Romualdo. She believes that his love for her (and his pure, priestly blood) will redeem her, rescuing her from the eternal doom created by The Maker, the dark vampire master. The tough and wise Bishop Serapion learns of Clarimonde’s seduction of Romualdo and wages a battle to save not only Romualdo’s physical life, but also his very soul.
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