Concert Series
Concert Series 2020-2021: Apolo y Dafne (1696) a Zarzuela by Sebastián Durón and Juan de Navas

The Hispanic Society’s 2020-2021 Concert Series are devoted to the production of the North American premiere of the opera, Apolo y Dafne (ca. 1696–99), in collaboration with the ensemble, Sonnambula. Apolo y Dafne is a dramatic opera, or zarzuela, by Spanish baroque composers Sebastián Durón (1660–1716) and Juan de Navas (ca. 1650–1719). This opera marks the most ambitious collaboration between Sonnambula and the Hispanic Society to date.

The Palacio de la Zarzuela, a royal hunting lodge just outside Madrid, takes its name from the brambly thicket of woods on which it stands. Beginning in 1657, a new genre of musical drama was performed at the Palacio. This new form, called “zarzuela,” references the wild, tangled vegetation around which it was born, a crown of laurels on Spain’s musical history. Baroque zarzuela is rarely performed in America — most manuscripts reside in Spanish libraries and have not been published in modern editions. The opportunity to premiere this zarzuela at Hispanic culture is of deep importance.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts.

What makes this work special?

Uniquely scored for seven sopranos and five-part choir, the work may pay tribute to the Italian tradition of concerto delle dame, in which ensembles of women were hired to perform for high-paying patrons. No other dramatic work of the seventeenth century features a woman-driven cast of this sort. The work is also thus notable for its three extended laments, and — rare for the genre of zarzuela — contains no spoken text and is instead completely sung. Apolo y Dafne’s dramatic song is set off by Italianate instrumental composition, featuring an ensemble comprising oboes, trumpets, violins, and presented with a large basso continuo group (viola da gamba, cello, harp, theorbo, baroque guitar, and harpsichord).


 February 22, 2021- Live YouTube Event

Live Conversation with Guillaume Bernardi, Stage Director and Elizabeth Weinfield, Artistic Director

Baroque opera veteran Guillaume Bernardi (Oper Frankfurt) will walk audiences, via livestream, through the complicated and fascinating process of mounting an opera production. What is the role of a stage director, and how is this complicated during a streamed concert? Learn about opera production behind the scenes from a deeply historical perspective while learning a bit about the opera itself.


 March 31, 2021- Live YouTube Event

Live Conversation about the opera with guest artists Esteban La Rotta (baroque guitar) and Camille Zamora (soprano)

Part conversation, part lecture-demonstration, listen in on the musicians of Sonnambula as they describe the intriguing complications of learning an opera that no one knows.

Featuring Elizabeth Weinfield (viola da gamba and direction) with guests Esteban La Rotta (baroque guitar) and Camille Zamora (soprano).


May 2021- YouTube Event

Performance with Jude Ziliak (violin) and James Kennerley (harpsichord)

Sonnambula musicians Jude Ziliak and James Kennerley will present a pre-recorded concert of Spanish baroque works for violin and harpsichord from the eighteenth century, featuring works by Jose Herrando, Juan de Ledesma, Juan Oliver y Astorga, and Marianna Martinez.


June 30, 2020 – Format TBD

North American Premiere of Apollo y Dafne (1696)