Cleveland’s Baroque Ensemble Hits the Stage

Nicole Gutman, Staff Writer

Baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire performed in Finney Chapel this past Sunday. Apollo’s Fire includes 13 Oberlin alumni and faculty, including the group’s conductor, Jeannette Sorrell, OC ’90.  The orchestra, which originates from Cleveland and has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Canada, uses 17th century-style instruments and performs music from the Baroque period. That night, Apollo’s Fire’s guest was Amanda Forsythe, soprano.

During its concert, Apollo’s Fire performed pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Joseph Haydn. Throughout the concert, the orchestra highlighted the relationship between the two composers, who were close friends and colleagues. Haydn was one of Mozart’s biggest influences — Mozart called Haydn “Papa” because of the impact he had on his life.

Apollo’s Fire tried to convey the differences between Mozart and Haydn’s composition styles. First, they performed the overture from Mozart’s opera La finta semplice, an upbeat and light-hearted piece. The orchestra then followed with the first two movements of Haydn’s Trauer Symphony. Since “Trauer” means “mourning,” the piece was dark in comparison to the Mozart overture.

Apollo’s Fire performed two arias from another Mozart opera called Lucio Silla. Before performing the arias, Sorrell explained the opera: a married woman who is faithful to her husband is also the love obsession of a police officer. In the first aria, “Sposo mia vita…Fra i persier piu funesti,” the woman has just found out that the policeman has killed her husband. In the other aria, “In un istante…Parto, m’affretto,” the policeman has been caught and she is moving on with her life.

After intermission, the group played the Overture and “Fra un dolce delirio” from Haydn’s opera L’isola disabitata. This opera is about a man trapped on a deserted island. Forsythe seductively sang “Fra un dolce delirio” as a spirit who has never seen a man until then and is interested. This aria was followed by “Alleluia” from Mozart’s oratorio Exultate, jubilate. Frosythe’s encore of “Voi che sepete” from Mozart’s opera, Le Nezze di Figaro. The last piece they played was Mozart’s Symphony No. 33.

The Sunday performance by Apollo’s Fire was filled with character and Sorrell conducted the orchestra in an elegant dance-like manner. Forsythe also had much character in her performance and treated every note with delicacy. Both Apollo’s Fire and Amanda Forsythe had the audience on their feet, roaring with applause.