Wednesday, November 15, 2017

PBO to Present “Back-to-Back” Oratorios

The final measures of the "Hallelujah" chorus in Handel's autograph score (from Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

We are rapidly approaching the season for oratorios; and the oratorio that consistently garners the most attention is George Frideric Handel’s HWV 56, Messiah. This season, however, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) will present two different Handel oratorios on two successive weeks. Tradition will be honored with a performance of Messiah; but this season it will be followed, one week later, by the rarely performed HWV 59, the three-act Joseph and his Brethren. Waverley Fund Music Director Nicholas McGegan will conduct both performances, and Director Bruce Lamott will prepare the Philharmonia Chorale.

The San Francisco performance of Messiah will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 8. The vocal soloists will be soprano Yulia Van Doren, mezzo Diana Moore, tenor James Reese, and baritone Philip Cutlip. The venue will be Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister. Ticket prices will range from $33 to $125 for premium seating. Tickets are currently available for advance purchase through a City Box Office event page, which displays a color-coded seating plan that shows which areas correspond to which price levels.

The San Francisco performance of Joseph and his Brethren will also begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 14. This will involve a much more narrative text, which was prepared by James Miller, who was chosen to provide a more dramatic account than is delivered in the Old Testament. In this case the vocal soloists portray specific characters and several of them will present more than one. The title role will be sung by Moore. Cutlip will take the roles of both Joseph’s brother Reuben and the Pharaoh of Egypt. Nicholas Phan will sing two of the brothers, Simeon and Judah; and soprano Gabrielle Haigh will sing the youngest brother, Benjamin. For the scenes in Egypt, mezzo Abigail Lewis will sing both the High Priest of On and the Pharaohs’ Chief Butler; and soprano Sherezade Panthaki will sing the role of Asenath, daughter to the High Priest. Ticket prices will range from $28 to $120, and City Box Office has prepared a separate event page with a similarly color-coded seating plan.

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