May 4, 2024

( Logo and ilustration by: Chess Albaneze )

Exciting news! The music and libretto for the "official" version of Mary 's first full length opera inspired by Marie Antoinette, The Memoirs of Antonina, is now complete! Taking its name from a slanderous 18th-century tract about the queen’s rumored exploits & 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, & the distraught historical figure determined to reclaim her kingdom & 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.

Mary composed the first draft of the score and libretto for The Memoirs of Antonina from March 2017 to May 2019. A preview concert of this version 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 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. You can see a recap video of this concert, performed beautifully by the very talented cast, right here:

After a few years away, Mary returned to The Memoirs of Antonina in May of 2022; and set out to create a second, "official" version of the libretto and musical score, which was completed in May of 2024. This completely expanded and revised second iteration features: 1) a far more nuanced & historically-informed libretto (the result of many months of in-depth period research), and 2) a polished and expanded musical run time of over two hours.

With the official version of The Memoirs Antonina now complete, Mary will take a brief break, and return to the opera later in 2024 to begin creating its orchestrations.

For any inquiries regarding The Memoirs of Antonina, please contact the composer/librettist at info [at] marybichner [dot] com. And please stay tuned for more updates, including a preview concert of the new and expanded version, intended for the future! 

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