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“Tragicomedia play with such agile dexterity that your concept of seventeenth-century music will be irrevocably changed.”

The Observer



Stephen Stubbs, director
Shannon Mercer, soprano
Douglas Williams, bass-baritone

Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 8pm

First Church in Cambridge, Congregational

Early Handel Cantatas

The Boston Early Music Festival kicks off 2012 with a triumphant return by the beloved ensemble Tragicomedia. Featuring BEMF Artistic Directors Paul O'Dette and Stephen Stubbs, Tragicomedia have been a mainstay of past June Festivals, but will make their first appearance on the Boston Concert Series since October, 2005. Stubbs will direct the ensemble which features O'Dette (lute), Erin Headley (viola da gamba), and Kristian Bezuidenhout (harpsichord) in a program of dazzling early cantatas by Handel, as well as works by Strozzi and Steffani. This concert will also feature soprano Shannon Mercer and a favorite from past BEMF operas, bass-baritone Douglas Williams.

While Handel’s oratorios are very well known today, and his operas increasingly revived, the large body of cantatas composed during his time in Italy are rarely heard. “The Italian cantata of the 17th and 18th centuries is one of the largest buried treasures of European musical history,” remarks Stephen Stubbs. The cantatas were written to be performed in the private homes of aristocratic patrons and to showcase the dazzling virtuosity of some of the finest singers in the world. The program will also feature masterpieces by Handel’s contemporaries and influences from his productive time in Italy.

Free pre-concert talk at 7pm

Concert Program

Barbara Strozzi: Donna non sa che dice
George Frideric Handel: Filli adorata
Francisco Guerau: Espanoleta
Handel: No se emenderá jamás
Handel: Allemande, from Suite No. 3 in D minor, HWV 428
Handel: Courante, from Suite Nr. 11 in D minor, HWV 437
Handel: Aria and Variations, from HWV 428
Agostino Steffani: Tengo per infallibile
Carlo Arrigoni: Sonata à Mandolino e Basso
Handel: Sarai troppo felice
Handel: Col partir (Aria from Ah! Che pur troppo e vero)
Handel: Tacete, ohime, tacete