This newly-devised opera pasticcio by Librettist Stephen Pettitt and Portland Baroque Orchestra’s Artistic Director Julian Perkins set for February 10 &11
Portland, Ore. — Portland Baroque Orchestra kicks off 2024 with the North American Premiere of a new opera pasticcio Dinner with Handel, February 10 & 11. ‘Pasticcio’ in Italian is a kind of pie, but in musical terms refers to a popular Baroque practice of mixing music from varied composers and reworking them into a new piece. For Dinner with Handel PBO’s new Artistic Director Julian Perkins deftly weaves together arias from Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Arne, and Pepusch and award-winning British Journalist Stephen Pettitt adds witty new text for a must-see chamber opera receiving only its second staging ever.
“I’ve always admired the Baroque pasticcio as an art form. It allows composers and librettists the room to tell fresh stories and introduce people to work they may have never given a chance,” said Perkins. “I am not aware of any other early music group reviving the pasticcio like we are. I do hope we spark its return with our interpretation.”
This semi-staged delicacy dares ask, ‘‘What would dinner with Handel really be like?’’ Set in the London home of the notoriously mercurial Handel, the action revolves around an uncomfortably intimate surprise dinner party thrown by Handel’s cook, the singer Gustavus Waltz. This uncomfortably intimate dinner party features conversation and confrontations between Handel, rival composer Johann Christoph Pepusch, spurned diva Francesca Cuzzoni, singer and cook Gustavus Waltz, and Handel’s dear friend, Mary Pendarves. This 90-minute jewel is fast-moving, funny, and touching, exploring Handel’s complex personality through carefully researched references to real events.
These two performances will feature soloist, Daniel Moody (countertenor) as Handel. Moody has been lauded for his “profoundly startling vocal resonance” (The New York Times) and “sweet and melancholy sound” (The Washington Post). A highly sought-after Handelian countertenor, that has performed with the Atlanta Opera and Vancouver Opera.
Abi Levis (mezzo-soprano) brings her “terrific tonal and textual sensitivity” (Opera News) and excels in a variety of musical styles. Levis has appeared as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Handel and Haydn Society.
Local soloist Arwen Myers (soprano), known for her “crystalline tone and delicate passagework” (San Francisco Chronicle), has also performed Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Early Music Vancouver, and Indianapolis Early Music Festival.
Kenneth Overton (baritone) is a 2020 Grammy Award Winner for Best Choral Performance in the title role of Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua and this season will reprise his role in Porgy and Bess as Porgy, with Opera Carolina and North Carolina Opera.
And Aaron Sheehan (tenor) rounds out the soloist lineup. He is recognized internationally as a leading interpreter of baroque repertoire and for his “sinuous and supple” voice (Opera Music). Sheehan has performed concerts at the Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston Baroque, and the Handel and Haydn Society.
Portland Baroque Orchestra presents
Dinner with Handel
The two performances for this US-premiere are:
Saturday, February 10 | 7:30 PM
First Baptist Church, Downtown Portland
Sunday, February 11 | 3:00 PM
Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium
Ticket-holders are invited to join us for the pre-concert discussion one hour prior to the performance where Julian Perkins will discuss the program and answer questions.
This performance will also be recorded and viewable online after the performance. Check PBO.org for details on when the recording will be available to stream.
This new work is generously sponsored by Union Pacific, Bette Worcester, and the Autzen Foundation.
TICKETS: available at PBO.org and 503-222-6000
Single Tickets start at $25
Ticket packages & group discounts (10 or more) are also available
$5 Arts for All tickets, subject to availability
$5 Student Rush tickets sold at the door, subject to availability
ABOUT JULIAN PERKINS
As the Artistic Director of Portland Baroque Orchestra, Julian Perkins brings a dynamic and adventurous spirit to all of his music-making. He looks forward to combining artistic excellence with meaningful scholarship in creating thrilling, historically inspired – yet contemporary – performances. Perkins is also Artistic Director of Cambridge Handel Opera and Sounds Baroque in the UK, and enjoys a busy and varied career as a conductor/director, chamber musician, and solo keyboard player.
Dubbed “The Indiana Jones of Early Music” by BBC Radio 3, Perkins was shortlisted for the 2021 Gramophone Award for his recording of Eccles’s Semele with the Academy of Ancient Music, and in August 2023 his latest solo disc, Handel’s Attick, was Instrumental Choice in BBC Music Magazine. He has been praised as both conductor and keyboard soloist for his “demonic intensity” (BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month), “fluid and natural pacing” (Gramophone Editor’s Choice), conducting “as if every bar means the world to him” (Opera Disc of the Month).
ABOUT PORTLAND BAROQUE ORCHESTRA
For forty years, Portland Baroque Orchestra has reigned as the Pacific Northwest’s premier period ensemble, expertly reimagining the music of the Baroque and Early Classical periods with passion and excellence in intimate venues. Founded in 1984, PBO is a jewel amongst Oregon’s arts organizations offering “neatly blended history and artistry… marvelously captured… [in] sensational” concerts. (Oregon ArtsWatch) Specializing in historically inspired performance, the orchestra also explores music beyond the Baroque, performing on period instruments or replicas with extraordinary artistry and spontaneity. PBO audiences enjoy the rich tonal textures of the baroque counterparts of modern instruments, including violins with gut strings and flutes made of wood and bone, in harmony with historical rarities such as the theorbo and harpsichord.
Portland Baroque Orchestra is supported by hundreds of generous individuals, foundations, and corporate partners. PBO receives season support from First Baptist Church, Ronni S. Lacroute, The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Oregon Arts Commission, and The Regional Arts & Culture Council.