Performance + Talk
Queer Maximalism and the French Rococo

Wednesday, March 22, 2023
FIAF Florence Gould Hall

In English

FIAF and Opera Lafayette present a musical evening delving into the striking parallels between the classic extravagance of French Rococo style and the over-the-top aesthetic of Queer Maximalism.

Join costume designer Machine Dazzle, art historian Meredith Martin, tenor Oliver Mercer, musician Avi Stein, and bass-baritone Jonathan Woody, along with moderator Ryan Brown, founder and artistic director of Opera Lafayette, for music and lively conversation. The topic of contemporary resonance will be debated, while excerpts will be performed from Opera Lafayette’s upcoming production of Rameau’s comedy ballet Io, premiering in New York on May 9 at the Museo del Barrio.

Approx. 1.5 hours

Machine Dazzle

Describing himself as a “Radical queer, emotionally driven, instinct-based concept artist and thinker,” Machine Dazzle was most recently appointed Costume Designer for Opera Lafayette’s production of Rameau’s Io.

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    • As Costume Designer for Opera Lafayette’s Io, Dazzle will create more than a dozen new costumes for this never-before-seen opéra-ballet by Rameau. Dazzle’s first solo exhibition, Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle, opened at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC in September 2022 and is on view through mid February 2023. In December, 2023 in collaboration with the Catalyst Quartet, Dazzle will design and perform in Bassline Fabulous, a modern take on Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

      Dazzle was a co-recipient the 2017 Bessie Award for Outstanding Visual Design, the winner of a 2017 Henry Hewes Design Award, and is a 2022 United States Artists Fellow. In 2019, Dazzle was commissioned by Guggenheim Works and Process and The Rockefeller Brothers to create Treasure, a rock and roll cabaret of original songs including a fashion show inspired by the content. Amongst many others, Dazzle has collaborated with Diane Von Furstenberg, Cara Delevingne, Godfrey Reggio, Justin Vivian Bond, Taylor Mac, Basil Twist, Julie Atlas Muz, and Jennifer Miller.

Meredith Martin

Meredith Martin is associate professor of art history at New York University and the Institute of Fine Arts.

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    • A specialist in early modern French art, architecture, and cross-cultural exchange, she is the co-author (with Gillian Weiss) of the award-winning book The Sun King at Sea: Maritime Art and Gallery Slavery in Louis XIV’s France (Getty Research Institute Publications, 2022), and the author of Dairy Queens: The Politics of Pastoral Architecture from Catherine de’ Medici to Marie-Antoinette (Harvard University Press, 2011). Together with the choreographer and activist Phil Chan, Martin co-created and produced a lost 18th-Century French ballet known as the Ballet des Porcelaines, or The Teapot Prince, which was performed throughout the U.S. and Europe in 2021-22 and was the subject of a volume entitled, Reimagining the Ballet des Porcelaines: A Story of Magic, Desire, and Exotic Entanglement (Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2022). Martin has also co-curated an exhibition on the world’s first stock market collapse at The New York Public Library called Fortune and Folly in 1720, and has contributed to the accompanying book Meltdown: Picturing the World’s First Bubble Economy (Harvey Miller/Brepols, 2020). Martin writes about how contemporary artists engage with the rococo and with France’s colonial past for Artforum and other publications, and is a founding editor of Journal18, an online, open-access journal devoted to art and culture of the long 18th Century.

Oliver Mercer

Described as “excellent,” and “sterling,” by The New York Times, tenor Oliver Mercer performs regularly throughout North America and Europe as a concert soloist, recitalist, and opera singer.

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    • A specialist of the Baroque era, he has performed with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, English National Opera, Spoletto Festival USA, Boston Early Music Festival, Opera Theater Company Ireland, Charleston Bach Festival, Clarion Music Society, Savannah Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, Kansas City Symphony and Mid Wales Opera. He has appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Trinity Wall Street, the Barbican London, Disney Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Royal Albert Hall.

      Oliver also enjoys an active performing schedule at home in the Washington DC area. Oliver has collaborated with The National Cathedral, IN Series, The Thirteen, and Opera Lafayette.

Avi Stein

Avi Stein will serve as conductor and harpsichordist for Opera Lafayette’s Io performances. He is the associate organist and chorus master at Trinity Church Wall Street and on faculty at the Juilliard School where he teaches continuo accompaniment, vocal repertoire and chamber music.

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    • Stein is the artistic director of the Helicon Foundation and has directed the International Baroque Academy of Musiktheater Bavaria, and the young artists’ program at the Carmel Bach Festival. He has conducted a variety of ensembles including Tafelmusik, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and the Opera Français de New York. Stein conducted Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at Juilliard in a production that toured in London’s Holland Park and at the Royal Opera House at the Palace of Versailles. Stein’s most recent production at Juilliard, Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo, was named one of the best performances of 2021 by the New York Times

      He performed on the 2015 Grammy Award winning recording for best opera by the Boston Early Music Festival.

      Avi studied at Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Southern California and was a Fulbright scholar in Toulouse, France.

Jonathan Woody

Jonathan Woody, bass-baritone and Opera Lafayette Artistic Associate, maintains an active schedule as a performer and composer in New York and across North America.

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    • Woody’s compositional voice blends 17th and 18th-century inspiration with today’s minimalism and socially conscious subject matter. Since 2020, he has received commissions from Apollo’s Fire, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Chanticleer, the Handeland Haydn Society, the Cathedral Choral Society of Washington, D.C., and the FiveBoroughs Music Festival, among others. In the 2021-2022 season, he served as Artistic Advisor for the Portland Baroque Orchestra, curating a program of 17th-century German music for voices and orchestra. Woody is committed to racial equity in the performing arts field, and currently serves on Early Music America’s Task Force for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access.