"The Anonymous Lover - A Co-Production with Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Philadelphia (Boston, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” by Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, MA. through February 18, 2024. Photo Credit: Nile Scott Studios)

By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724

“To love is such sweet pleasure..." 

                                               - Desfontaines-Lavallée    

Boston Lyric Opera



A new adaptation by Boston-based, OBIE Award-winning playwright Kirsten Greenidge  

Music by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Libretto by Desfontaines-Lavallée

A co-production with Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Philadelphia.  

Stage Director Dennis Whitehead Darling

Conducted by David Angus 

Cast Includes: Brianna J. Robinson as “Léontine,” Omar Najmi as “Valcour,” Evan Hughes as “Ophémon, Ashley Emerson as “Jeannette,” Zhengyi Baic as “Colin,” Sandra Piques Eddy as “Dorothée”

Additional Creative Team:

Conductor - David Angus; Stage Director - Dennis Whitehead Darling*; Lighting Designer - Driscoll Otto*; Costume Designer - Leslie Travers; Scenic Coordinator - Baron E. Pugh*; Wig/Makeup Designer - April Gerbode*; Intimacy Director - Angie Jepson; Orchestra Leader - Annie Rabbat; Chorus Director - Brett Hodgdon; Rehearsal Coaches/Pianists: Ji Yung Lee & Brendon Shapiro; Stage Manager - Kristen Barrett 

*Boston Lyric Opera Debut 

“THE ANONYMOUS LOVER is a co-production with Boston Lyric Opera & Opera Philadelphia. Book adaptation by Kirsten Greenidge is underwritten by the Merrill Family Charitable Foundation. Costumes for this production were constructed by Kansas City Costume Company. Additional costumes for this production were built by CostumeWorks, Inc. Costumes provided by Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Philadelphia, San Diego Opera, and Palm Beach Opera with original design by Leslie Travers. Orchestra parts are provided by arrangement with Opera Ritrovata in conjunction with the publishers and copyright owners, engravers and editors: George N. Gianopoulos, Stephen Karr, Leila Núñez-Fredell, and Mishkar Núñez-Fredell. Nina Yoshida Nelsen’s spring residency has been made possible in part by Dr. Kurt D. Gress & Mr. Samuel Y. Parkinson.

“THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” plays three performances at The Huntington Theatre. 

Note: Sung in French with English dialogue and subtitles 


February 16, 2024 through February 18, 2024

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 


Tickets start at $33. Available now online at blo.org, and through BLO Audience Services at # 617-542-6772 or boxoffice@blo.org.


Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) uses the The Huntington Theatre stage for a unique 1780 comic opera “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER and, while the characters may come across as a bit cartoonish, the vocal talent is top notch and the overall production is simply gorgeous. 

The story is based upon a play by Madame de Genlis

The chamber opera, originally presented with a ballet by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER the book has been adapted by Boston-based, OBIE Award-winning playwright Kirsten Greenidge and features a libretto by Desfontaines-Lavallée. 

The plot is simplistic but fun, nonetheless; and, although the mixing of English dialogue with the original French singing (subtitled English translations appear on screens on opposing sides of the stage) can be a little distracting, thanks to a well coordinated staging and steady pacing, the overall presentation is thoroughly engaging. 

While the "opéra comique" is technically considered two acts, it has been staged and presented here as a single act with no intermission. 

(Photo: Omar Najmi as “Valcour” with Brianna J. Robinson as "Léontine" in a scene from “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” by Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, MA. through February 18, 2024. Photo Credit: Nile Scott Studios)

The BLO program highlights many aspects to the esteemed Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges but, in a nutshell, he is notable for being the first classical composer of African descent to excel in European music as a French violinist, conductor and composer. 

He lived his life as a biracial free man of color. He was also a soldier, fencer, athlete and dancer. 

Chevalier de Saint-Georges composed violin concertos and duets, string quartets, sonatas, symphonies and more, including the absurdly charming, “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER. 

As the opera begins, we are introduced to a wealthy young widow, Léontine (Brianna J. Robinson), who has a secret admirer, aka “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER. 

Robinson is captivating as Léontine who, from the outset, is deeply troubled by the many mysterious letters and gifts given to her of late in which he (whoever the "he" is) declares his unbridled love for her.

(Photo: The CAST of “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” by Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, MA. through February 18, 2024. Photo Credit: Nile Scott Studios)

Léontine is unaware that “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” is, in actuality, her close male friend, Valcour (Omar Najmi). 

Najmi is energetic and fun as the nervous and humble Valcour, who is deeply anxious to confess himself to Léontine, but finds himself too frightened to do so as he considers himself unworthy of Léontine's love.  

The only person aware of Valcour's "secret identity" is his friend and counselor, Ophémon (Evan Hughes).

Hughes dominates nearly every scene in which Ophémon appears, especially as he attempts to convince Valcour to admit his desire to be with Léontine. 

(Photo: Omar Najmi as “Valcour” with Ashley Emerson as “Jeannette” in a scene from “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” by Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, MA. through February 18, 2024. Photo Credit: Nile Scott Studios)

Similarly, Léontine seeks counsel herself from her more promiscuous friend (and possible serial widow) Dorothée (Sandra Piques Eddy). 

Also similarly, Piques Eddy enhances every scene appearing as uninhibited, wild and carefree Dorothée, who pushes Léontine to accept the love of the mysterious “ANONYMOUS LOVER. 

All of this happens with the backdrop of a happy wedding between Jeannette (Ashley Emerson) and Colin (Zhengyi Baic) which makes Léontine even more despondent and determined to find out just who is “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER.

Both Emerson and Baic are fabulously well paired as the loving couple and are astounding vocalists. 

As a result of everyone's efforts, we watch as Valcour awkwardly attempts to reveal his identity to Léontine. 

While this is going on, everyone else around them seemingly is already aware of their shared feelings for one another and are secretly rooting for the couple to succeed.

(Photo: The CAST of “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” by Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, MA. through February 18, 2024. Photo Credit: Nile Scott Studios)

According to a press release by the BLO, “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” is the third of Bologne’s six operas and, not only was it his most successful opera, it is the only one that has survived to this day. 

"The work holds a significant place in the annals of music history, standing as one of the first known operas composed by a Black artist," the release points out.

On a technical level, under the impressive direction of Dennis Whitehead Darling, every production element hits on all the right notes from beautiful sets, magnificent costumes, expertly executed lighting & sound - all spot on." 

The orchestra conducted by David Angus expertly executed the amusing, lighthearted score - and both the talented principal cast and entire vocal ensemble was exquisite.

There is only one more opportunity to see “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER which concludes at the Huntington Theatre on Sunday, February 18, 2024 at 3:00pm. For tickets and more information, visit blo.org,  BLO Audience Services at # 617-542-6772 or boxoffice@blo.org.

Orchestra parts for “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER are provided by arrangement with Opera Ritrovata in conjunction with the publishers and copyright owners, engravers and editors: George N. Gianopoulos, Stephen Karr, Leila Núñez-Fredell and Mishkar Núñez-Fredell

Sung in French with English dialogue and subtitles 

Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 




Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges is having a moment. 

The new biographical film Chevalier tells the story of this musically and romantically prolific composer whose opera “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” debuted in 1780. 

Based on an 18th century French play, the opera and its source material has set the stage for secret-epistolary love stories in plays, Broadway musicals, Hollywood films, and other mediums. 

Recent attention on Bologne’s life story, and the enduring appeal of his opera’s charming romance has brought “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” back into repertoires across the country. 

The story revolves around the wealthy young widow Léontine who is being pushed to remarry, and rejects offers from unsuitable suitors until she becomes intrigued by letters from a secret admirer. 

“Joseph Bologne was a competent, serious composer and a big star in his time,” says BLO Music Director David Angus. “While somewhat better known for his concertos, Bologne wrote five or six operas…only one of which survives. Bologne certainly knew of W.A. Mozart, and is often compared with him. But he actually worked with Joseph Haydn, negotiating the commission of Haydn’s Paris Symphonies, a collection of works that Bologne also edited and conducted in their premiere. 'THE ANONYMOUS LOVER' is an accessible, very charming story with beautiful arias.”  

With a libretto by François-Georges Fouques Deshayes, Desfontaines,“THE ANONYMOUS LOVER”  is a co-production with Opera Philadelphia – sung in French with English dialogue and surtitles. 

Casting for “THE ANONYMOUS LOVER” includes Nardus Williams as Léontine and BLO Jane & Steven Akin Emerging Artist alumnus Omar Najmi as Valcor. 

Dennis Whitehead Darling is Stage Director; David Angus conducts


BOSTON LYRIC OPERA (BLO) inspires, entertains, and connects communities through compelling opera performances, programs, and gatherings.    



To create operatic moments that enrich everyday life.    


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Phone # 617-542-6772


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