As I wrote last month, I am now in New York working on Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie, in a large-scale production at the Juilliard School, with Stephen Wadsworth stage directing and Zack Winokur creating the choreography, and for the first time ever, bringing the Vocal Arts department, the Dance department and the Historical Performance department (providing the period orchestra) of Juilliard together in a full-fledged collaboration. Now that I am in the middle of that work, I can attest to the extremely high caliber of the singers and the players – and I have even discovered several orchestral players who are originally from the Northwest, and encouraged them to come back after their training. The Juilliard Historical Performance program has become the most important supplier of new and qualified baroque instrumentalists to baroque orchestras all over the country and the rest of the world. If talented musicians from the Northwest can come back and contribute to our talent pool sooner than I did (it took me 30 years to get back!) we will all feel the benefits to our cultural life.
On my day off last Sunday I was able to take in a very special concert performance of Handel’s Rinaldo at Carnegie Hall with The English Concert and a bevy of vocal stars. My young countertenor friend, Jakub Orlinski (who sang with us last season as the Spirit in our concert of Dido and Aeneas) virtually stole the show, in one of the smaller roles, with his exquisite singing and inventive ornamentation. Jakub, originally from Poland, was the Endimione two years ago in the production of La Calisto that I led with Zack Winokur at Juilliard. Now his career has taken off so fast that he is under exclusive contract with the Warner company, and booked up with productions all over the world. We are still determined to bring him back to Seattle in the coming seasons, and we are also working on bringing French superstar countertenor Philippe Jarousski to Seattle soon. Stay tuned on that front!
On my return to Seattle in May we will be plunging directly into the work with Amanda Forsythe on our very special exploration of the music of Handel from his time in Rome in his early 20’s. Central to this repertoire are two magnificent cantatas about tragic female heroines:
Agrippina condotta a morire, is the last scene in the life of the Roman Empress condemned to death by her notorious son, Nero. Armida abbandonata is the emotionally fraught scene from Tasso’s epic Gerusalemme liberata where the sorceress Armida has just been abandoned by her lover Rinaldo (the same as the subject of Handel’s opera!) – at first she calls on the monsters of the deep to overturn his fleeing ship and for the waves to engulf him, but then calls a halt as she is forced to admit that she still loves him and cannot condemn him to death.
Please note that we have changed the locations of these concerts.
May 12th at 7:30pm will be at St Stephens Episcopal Church in Laurelhurst, and May 13th at 2pm will be at Trinity Parish Church.
On May 13 please bring your mother (or your favorite mother of someone else) to celebrate Mother’s Day with us.