Special Reports

MA Top 30 Professional: Sarah Edgar

December 5, 2023 | By Hannah Edgar

Choreographer, Stage Director
Haymarket Opera Company (Chicago)
New York Baroque Dance Company

Chicago’s Haymarket Opera presents Baroque opera as it would have been at the time of its creation. One of the key contributors to its period-performance alchemy is Choreographer/Director Sarah Edgar, who rounds a decade with the company this season. 

Edgar was raised in northeastern Ohio, where she studied the Cecchetti ballet method. She discovered Baroque dance when Catherine Turocy, artistic director of the New York Baroque Dance Company, came to Ohio State University as a visiting scholar. Edgar, then a freshman, would go on to become the company’s associate director, with stints in Europe for graduate studies and freelance dance work.

When her husband’s job brought the couple back to the U.S., this time to the Chicago area, Edgar reached out to Craig Trompeter, Haymarket’s director, to ask if he needed a choreographer. Her first show with Haymarket, a 2013 Dido and Aeneas, was just six months later.

Now, Edgar’s expertise guides not just dance sequences—at this point quintessential to Haymarket’s productions—but the company’s stage direction and blocking, as well. Of course, she leans on contemporaneous dramaturgical materials as primary sources. For example, her stagings of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea in 2022 and La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina, Francesca Caccini’s only surviving opera, in 2023, were both informed by a 1699 treatise by actor and playwright Andrea Perucci. She’s also leaned on Franz Lang’s Abhandlung über die Schauspielkunst (Treatise on Scenic Acting) from 1727. 

Edgar usually schedules a half-day movement workshop to walk singers through historical acting techniques. By now, though, she’s worked with Haymarket regulars so often that she finds she can take a step back. After all, as she is quick to remind, stage directors didn’t even exist in the eighteenth century.

“The core group of singers feels like a real eighteenth-century company. They’re all so used to the style that they can improvise on it … It becomes this organic organism,” Edgar says.




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