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2021 is a year of great uncertainty for many, but we at Really Spicy Opera have chosen to plow directly ahead with the Aria Institute. For information about upcoming offerings and to sign up, see our main Aria Institute page.


This year, Really Spicy Opera launched the first phase of a new collaboration with the Annapolis, MD-based Élan Ensemble: the Women in Opera History Initiative. It’s also the year that RSO launched the Aria Institute for Composers and Librettists.

To kick off the Élan Ensemble collaboration, RSO traveled to Paris to give the second-ever performance of Grétry’s 1781 opera Émilie, ou la belle esclave – a vibrant and musical drama commissioned by Marie Antoinette. The revival of this historic opera is part of a larger initiative designed to call attention to women’s important (but often forgotten) roles in shaping and creating the 18th-century opera repertoire.

Émilie, ou la belle esclave formed the centerpiece of RSO’s January 2020 tour to France. This tour included:

  • Presentations at several university classes.
  • A full performance of the opera at the Fondation des États-Unis, including a lecture on Marie Antoniette’s role in its creation – and the opera’s recently discovered role in the financing of the American Revolution.
  • A musical and dramatical discussion of the opera in lecture-performance fashion at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (French National Library).
  • Assorted research and event planning meetings for the next phase of the initiative.

In November 2020, Basil Considine presented his research on Émilie at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society.

Drama that burns and music that sates.