Category Archives: Opera

Dido and Aeneas

Dido rehearsal photoApril was a busy month for the UW Chamber Singers and Opera Workshop, featuring two separate productions of Henry Purcell’s 17th-century opera Dido and Aeneas. Faculty artist Stephen Stubbs led student singers and instrumentalists in a staged version in Meany Hall on April 13th, then brought in professional soloists and members of the Pacific MusicWorks period orchestra for concert performances in Benaroya Hall and Meany Hall on April 29th and 30th.

While Geoffrey Boers and Stephen Stubbs coached both subsets of Chamber Singers in Baroque performance practice for the Dido choruses, U.K. choreographer Anna Mansbridge put a modern spin on the staged version with a wide range of movement styles. Chorus members created human sculptures of trees, writhed like villainous witches, performed elegant country dances, and caroused like sailors, often bringing out the humor in an otherwise tragic tale. Four professional dancers provided another means of storytelling and artistry.

The other half of Chamber Singers sang the choruses in the April 29-30 concert performances with Laura Pudwell and Brendan Tuohy in the title roles. Instead of the Fairy Queen prologue that opened the staged production, they began with Purcell’s Welcome Song for the king. This collaboration between the UW Chamber Singers and Pacific MusicWorks was preceded by other rewarding early music projects, including Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and Handel’s Messiah in the 2016-2017 season.

“Robust chorus” shines in Semele!

Check out this Seattle Times review about last weekend’s stunning production of Handel’s Baroque opera Semele!  There is much cause for celebration in the success of this collaboration between the choirIMG_0705 and voice divisions at UW and Pacific MusicWorks!  The chorus consisted of members of Chamber Singers, UW Chorale, Men’s Glee and Recital Choir. Next year’s production will be Magic Flute by Mozart- tune back for more details soon!

UW choirs and voice will collaborate in Baroque production with Stephen Stubbs next year!

Stephen Stubbs appointed to School of Music faculty

Stephen Stubbs

Stephen Stubbs

The University of Washington School of Music gains new expertise in early music with the appointment of lutenist and baroque opera specialist Stephen Stubbs to the School of Music faculty.

Stubbs, artistic director of Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks, joins the School of Music faculty in fall 2013 as a senior artist in residence and makes his public debut at the UW in May 2014 as artistic director and conductor of a Pacific MusicWorks and School of Music co-production of Handel’s 1743 opera Semele.

“With his extensive knowledge, his passion and high standards for performance and teaching, and his international stature, Stephen Stubbs is an exciting addition to our faculty,” says School of Music Director Richard Karpen. “His appointment and the partnership with Pacific MusicWorks furthers the mission of the School of Music to create a strong and resilient foundation for a world-class musical culture to thrive in the Pacific Northwest. We are pleased to welcome him to the region’s flagship public university music program.”

A Seattle native who studied composition, piano, and harpsichord at the University of Washington, Stubbs gained international prominence as an opera director and lutenist during a 30-year career in Europe. Since his return to Seattle in 2006, he has made his mark as a musical director, guest conductor, and founder of organizations devoted to the study and production of baroque opera and oratorio.

His first venture in that direction was the founding of the Accademia d’Amore, a summer institute for pre-professional singers and musicians training in baroque style and stagecraft. In 2008, he founded Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks, a production company focused primarily on presenting top-quality performances of early music with a contemporary voice.  The organization also embraces an educational dictate to train young professional singers and musicians in the art of 17th and 18th century music.

Stubbs will apply his expertise in that area at the UW during the 2013-14 academic year, preparing School of Music students in voice and instrumental performance to perform side by side with professional musicians and opera singers in the Semele production, set for May 16-18, 2014 at Meany Theater.

Along with his leadership of Pacific MusicWorks, Stubbs is in demand internationally as a guest conductor and artistic director. As a guest conductor he has led performances of Gluck’s Orfeo and Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto in Bilbao, Spain, and Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Amsterdam’s Netherlands Opera. Following his successful debut conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2011he was invited back in 2012 to conduct the Symphony’s performances ofMessiah.  Since 1997, he has served as co-director of the award-winning Boston Early Music Festival opera.

“I’m thrilled to be joining faculty of the UW School of Music,” Stubbs says of his appointment, “and am honored to be entrusted with a revival of the baroque ideals of apprenticeship and mentoring, but made specifically relevant to the contemporary cultural scene and the needs of today’s students.”