New Opera: The Memoirs of Antonina




( Logo and artwork by: Chess Albaneze )  









The Memoirs of Antonina is a new/in-progress three-act opera by composer Mary Bichner, inspired by Marie Antoinette of France. Taking its name from a slanderous 18th-century tract about the queen’s rumored exploits and indiscretions, The Memoirs of Antonina focuses on the final two years of Marie Antoinette’s life, and pits two versions of the queen (performed by two different singers) against one another: the imagined breezy libertine derided by revolutionary pamphleteers, and the distraught historical figure determined to reclaim her kingdom and her reputation. The opera also sets the stylistic conventions of opera buffa against those of opera seria, resulting in a work that explores both the exasperatingly comic — and profoundly tragic — elements of Marie Antoinette’s story.


Musically, The Memoirs of Antonina is inspired by classical works of 18th-century Europe, and will be scored for an orchestra of approximately 30-40 players including woodwinds, brass, percussion and string orchestra.


In August 2017 the opera’s act & scene structure, character/vocalist list, and song list were completed; the libretto was completed in June 2018. A first musical draft of the opera was completed in June 2019, with a second musical draft begun in June 2022 and nearly complete at the time of this writing (Summer 2023).


A preview concert for The Memoirs of Antonina took place on Sunday, September 2nd 2018 at the Central Square Theater of Cambridge, MA, USA; featuring the world premiere of five arias and three recitatives from the new opera. The concert starred Helen Zhibing Huang as Marie Antoinette, Emily Thorner as Antonina, Neal Ferreira as Louis XVI, and Junhan Choi as Jacques Hébert, with music direction by Berlin-based conductor and vocal coach Tim Ribchester. Videos from this concert can be found below.





Videos from “The Memoirs of Antonina” preview concert, which took place in September 2nd, 2018 at The Central Square Theater of Cambridge, MA, USA. Performed by Helen Zhibing Huang (Marie Antoinette), Emily Thorner (Antonina), Neal Ferreira (Louis XVI), Junhan Choi (Jacques Hébert), Tim Ribchester (music director), Emma Terrell (assistant music director), Porcelain Dalya (assistant stage director/actor), and Jesse Strachman, Michela Micalizio, and Ryan Huemmer (actors). Videos by Allthingsharmony / Brandon Johnson.


Song description and synopsis info can be found via the corresponding YouTube link for each piece (simply click on the video of your choice to be taken to the information page):





For more information on The Memoirs of Antonina, please contact the composer at: