Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.Friday, November 11, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 3:00 p.m.
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Cornish Opera Theater presents La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’Isola d’Alcina (The Liberation of Ruggiero from the Island of Alcina), a rarely performed 17th Century Italian baroque opera by Francesca Caccini, and the first opera ever composed by a woman. Noted baroque choreographer Anna Mansbridge directs and Stephen Stubbs leads the period instrument ensemble with a cast featuring tenor Ross Hauck.
The story on which the opera is based is excerpted from the 16th Century Italian epic Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, a well-known work at the time: Ruggiero, a heroic Saracen champion, has been enslaved in love by the evil sorceress Alcina on her enchanted island. Melissa, a good sorceress, comes to rescue Ruggiero from this degenerate life disguised as his old tutor, Atlas. She reminds Ruggiero of his duty as a noble warrior of the Christian armies, and of his love for Brademante, a woman warrior. Through Melissa’s persuasive words, Ruggerio realizes his folly and throws off Alcina’s gifts of love in exchange for his armor. When Alcina returns, Ruggerio is indifferent to her pleas of love and he rejects her. Thus spurned, Alcina in fury summons monsters of the deep to seek revenge on Ruggerio. Melissa returns and frees enchanted damsels, whom Alcina had turned into flowers and plants. Alcina returns “in a monstrous boat woven of whalebones, with a Chorus of Monsters.” Melissa’s magic is more powerful than Alcina’s, and she banishes her. Melissa then frees enchanted knights who were former lovers of the freed damsels, and who were ensnared by Alcina. They dance, with much rejoicing, that the wicked Alcina has been defeated.
Director and choreographer Anna Mansbridge, is originally from the United Kingdom, where she studied early dance for many years with teachers foremost in the profession. She holds a First Class Honors Degree in Dance and Education from Bedford College, U.K., and an M.F.A in Choreography and Performance from Mills College, C.A. She has been teaching and performing early European Court dance (16th-18th centuries) since 1990. In 1995 she co-founded Footwork OffLimits, a company committed to presenting early dance to audiences in ways both entertaining and informative. Mansbridge has been on the faculty of two early music courses in Europe; the Ringve International Summer School in Trondheim, Norway, and Aestas Musica in Varazdin, Croatia. She immigrated to Seattle in 1998, and in 2000 she founded Seattle Early Dance, which has quickly established itself as the Northwest’s premier early dance company, and has been the recipient of a number of grants. Recent choreography and performance credits include Monteverdi’s Il Ballo delle Ingrate, John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Baroque Extravaganza with Gallery Concerts, and Spanish Baroque Meets Flamenco in collaboration with Flamenco dance specialist Rubina Carmona. Mansbridge is also in demand as a solo performer, and has recently appeared with both Seattle Symphony and Bellevue Philharmonic. In addition, she has taught on a number of early music workshops, including The Dancing Master, and the Accademia d’Amore baroque opera workshop.
Music director Stephen Stubbs studied composition, lute, and harpsichord at university and privately in Holland and England before making his professional debut as a lutenist at Wigmore Hall, London in 1976. From 1980 until 2006 Stubbs served as professor for lute and performance practices at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen. With his direction of Stefano Landi’s La Morte d’Orfeo at the 1987 Bruges festival, Stubbs launched his career as an opera director and simultaneously founded the ensemble Tragicomedia, which has since recorded numerous CDs and completed tours of Europe, North America and Japan. Stubbs has been invited to direct opera productions in Europe, the U.S., Canada, and Scandinavia. Most recently he directed Monteverdi’s Poppea in Vancouver, Mattheson’s Boris Goudenow in Boston, Gluck’s Orfeo in Bilbao, and Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Murcia. In 2006 Stubbs returned to his native Seattle to found and serve as Artistic Director of Pacific Operaworks, an opera company dedicated to staging new productions of seldom performed works from the Baroque and contemporary opera repertoire. Since 1997 Stubbs has also co-directed the biennial Boston Early Music Festival opera. This has resulted in Grammy-nominated recordings of Conradi’s Ariadne in 2005 and of Lully’s Thesee in 2007. Stubbs’ solo lute recordings include the music of J.S. Bach, S.L. Weiss, David Kellner and the Belgian lutenist Jaques St. Luc, and with baroque harpist Maxine Eilander Sonate al Pizzico on the ATMA label. His performances can also be heard on the Vanguard Classics and ECM labels. Stubbs currently directs the early music program at Cornish College of the Arts.
Tenor Ross Hauck’s opera credits include Boston Early Music Festival, Sacramento Opera, Aspen Opera Center, Indianapolis Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. He has premiered new roles in operas by American composers Libby Larsen and John Musto, and was recently featured on the Naxos label recording of the opera Brundibar. Recital highlights include the Ravinia Festival, the New York Festival of Song, the Southeastern Festival of Song, and the Wolf Trap Discovery Series. He has been featured in early music with the Seattle Baroque, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Early Music Guild, and most recently was heard singing the title role in Monteverdi’s Return of Ulysses with Stephen Stubbs and Pacific Operaworks. Other recent appearances have been with the Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony. Highlights of this upcoming season include performances with the Atlanta Ballet, the Dallas Bach Society, and two world premieres by composers Lori Laitman and Ben Bernstein, as well as return engagements with the Seattle Symphony, the Helena Symphony, and Pacific Operaworks. Hauck holds graduate degrees from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He is also a cellist and a co-founder of the Sacred Music Foundation.
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