(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass.) — The drama and emotion of the Italian cantata takes center stage when the early-music ensemble Tragicomedia performs a holiday concert featuring works by Handel and Italian Baroque composers on December 9, 2012, at 6pm, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, as part of the Close Encounters With Music series.
“Tragicomedia: A Baroque Holiday Celebration” features a soprano and bass-baritone accompanied by rarely heard Baroque instruments such as the mandolin, lirone, chitarrone and viola de gamba. The program includes 17th- and early 18th-century cantatas by George Frideric Handel — whose compositions represent the pinnacle of the cantata form — as well as Barbara Strozzi, Francisco Guerau, Agostino Steffani and Carlo Arrigon.
The 17th-century aesthetic style of dramatic contrast known as tragicomedia was the inspiration for the ensemble’s cofounders, musicians Stephen Stubbs and Erin Headley, who formed the group in 1987. Since then, Tragicomedia, under Stubbs’ direction, has explored every musical genre from lute song to fully staged Baroque opera, in repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Bach. Many of the group’s recordings, for EMI, Virgin, Hyperion, and Harmonia Mundi USA, have won prestigious prizes, and the ensemble has appeared annually at the Boston Early Music Festival since 1997.
The December 9 concert features soprano Mireille Asselin, bass-baritone Douglas Williams and musicians Paul O’Dette (lute), Headley (viola de gamba) and Michael Sponsellor (harpsichord). For this event, Catherine Liddell will be stepping in for Stubbs on the lute.
Tickets are $40 (orchestra and mezzanine) and $30 (balcony), available at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center box office, 413.528.0100; through Close Encounters With Music at 800-843-0778; or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscriptions are $185 ($160 for seniors) for a series of 6 concerts, and include a free subscribers-only exclusive event, a Midwinter Fireside concert at Ventfort Hall on February 23 with the Amphion String Quartet. Visit Close Encounters With Music. Performances are supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.