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Philharmonia brings gender- and genre-bending production of Handel opera Aci, Galatea e Polifemo to the Bay Area, January 22 – February 1

Originally mounted at National Sawdust in New York City, the West Coast premiere includes original cast members Anthony Roth Costanzo and Davóne Tines, joined by soprano Lauren Snouffer

December 11, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO—Landing in the Bay Area for the first time this January is Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale’s groundbreaking fully-staged production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, produced by Anthony Roth Costanzo and Cath Brittan, with Brooklyn’s National Sawdust. Brought to life by renowned stage director Christopher Alden, this “excitingly contemporary” production (The New York Times) stars countertenor Costanzo, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, and soprano Lauren Snouffer, with internationally-renowned Handelian Nicholas McGegan leading the Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players. Aci, Galatea e Polifemo will have its west coast premiere at an opening night gala performance at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera on January 22, 2020, with seven subsequent performances at ODC Theater in San Francisco; see below for complete listing information.

The world premiere of this new production of Aci, Galatea e Polifemo at National Sawdust in 2017, fit with inventive video projections and harrowing intimacy, was rapturously received by audiences and critics alike. In The New York Times, Anthony Tommasini described it as a “radical production of a Handel rarity” that “wrings every bit of unsettling darkness from the curious work.” Handel’s first setting of this story taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses premiered in 1708, when the composer was just 23. A traditionally female role, the nymph Galatea will be played by Costanzo, who meets a tragic end at the hands of the monster Polifemo (Tines). Galatea loves Aci, a traditionally male character this time played by Lauren Snouffer. With these casting decisions, the production moves away from conventional gender roles and explores the essential, universal human struggle for happiness in the face of totalitarian power and oppression.

All three stars are currently enjoying meteoric rises in their careers: the New York production paved the way for Costanzo’s innovative multi-genre project Glass Handel in 2018 and his starring role in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten at the Metropolitan Opera. Tines, a 2019 winner of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, received extensive acclaim for his new production of Langston Hughes’s The Black Clown at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival this summer. Snouffer, recently described by Opera News as “one of the most adventurous singers on the international scene,” has a full calendar of performances across the globe this season, performing work by composers from Handel to George Benjamin.

The opening night performance at PBO’s Winter Gala on January 22 showcases the singers and instrumentalists at the full extent of their abilities, thanks to the state-of-the-art Constellation® acoustic system from Meyer Sound. The Gala is chaired by Melanie Peña; Melanie and her husband PBO Board Vice President Mark Perry— son of former Secretary of Defense William Perry—are the Official Gala Sponsors. After the opera, guests will stay for the opening night After Party featuring a DJ, scotch tasting courtesy of  Whiskymaster Steve Beal, appearances by the artists, full late-night menu, and surprises.

Listing information:

Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Lauren Snouffer, soprano (Aci)
Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor (Galatea)
Davóne Tines, bass-baritone (Polifemo)
Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players

Christopher Alden, stage direction
Mark Grey, sound & video design
Seth Reiser, lighting design
Terese Wadden, costume design
Paul Tate dePoo III, set design

Produced by Anthony Roth Costanzo and Cath Brittan

A co-production of National Sawdust and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Wednesday, January 22 @ 8 pm | Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, San Francisco

Friday January 24 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Saturday January 25 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Sunday January 26 @ 3 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Tuesday January 28 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco – NEW DATE ADDED!
Wednesday January 29 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Friday January 31 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Saturday February 1 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco

About Anthony Roth Costanzo

Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo began performing professionally at the age of 11 and has since appeared in opera, concert, recital, film, and on Broadway. His debut album, ARC, on Decca Gold was nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award, and he is Musical America’s 2019 vocalist of the year.

Costanzo has appeared with many of the world’s leading opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, English National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Dallas Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Spoleto Festival USA, Glimmerglass Festival and Finnish National Opera. In concert he has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has performed at a wide-ranging variety of venues including Carnegie Hall, Versailles, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, Minamiza Kyoto, Joe’s Pub, The Guggenheim, The Park Avenue Armory, and Madison Square Garden.

Costanzo is a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and won first prize in Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role in a Merchant Ivory film. He has begun working as a producer and curator in addition to a performer, creating shows for National Sawdust, Opera Philadelphia, the Philharmonia Baroque, Princeton University, WQXR, The State Theater in Salzburg, Master Voices and Kabuki-Za Tokyo. Costanzo graduated from Princeton University where he has returned to teach, and he received his masters from the Manhattan School of Music. In his youth he performed on Broadway and alongside Luciano Pavarotti.

About Davóne Tines

Heralded as ‘a singer of immense power and fervor’ by The Los Angeles Times, Davóne Tines came to international attention during the 2015-16 in breakout performances at the Dutch National Opera premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains directed by Peter Sellars and at the Ojai Music Festival presenting works by Caroline Shaw and Kaija Saariaho with the Calder Quartet and the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Highlights of the present season include the European premiere of David Lang’s prisoner of the state with Ilan Volkov conducting the BBC Symphony, Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri with Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony, John Adams’ El Niño with David Robertson and the Houston Symphony, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Stéphane Denève and the Saint Louis Symphony.  Davóne Tines appears throughout the season on numerous concert stages in collaboration with The Dover Quartet and is presented by Carnegie Hall, Celebrity Series of Boston, Da Camera Society of Houston, and Vocal Arts DC in his first American recital tour with pianist, Adam Nielsen.

Davóne Tines was co-creator with Zack Winokur and composer Michael Schachter, as well as co-librettist of The Black Clown, a music theater experience inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem of the same name that animates a black man’s resilience against America’s legacy of oppression by fusing vaudeville, opera, jazz, and spirituals to bring Hughes’ verse to life onstage.  The world premiere was given by the American Repertory Theater in autumn 2018 and presented by Lincoln Center in summer 2019.   Of performances of The Black Clown, Ben Brantley of The New York Times lauded, “this rich, seamless production melds the past and present of African-American history into an electrifyingly ambivalent whole…An estimable opera singer, Mr. Tines has a depths-plumbing bass-baritone that can find a range of contradictions within a single note.  And his body and face match that voice in their expressiveness.”

About Lauren Snouffer

Recognized for her unique artistic curiosity in world-class performances spanning the music of Claudio Monteverdi and Johann Adolph Hasse through to György Ligeti and George Benjamin, American Lauren Snouffer is celebrated as one of the most versatile and respected sopranos on the international stage.

Opera performances of the current season fortify the soprano’s place as one of the eminent interpreters of contemporary music.  Lauren Snouffer assays the title role of Berg’s Lulu in a new production at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago conducted by Pedro-Pablo Prudencio and directed by Mariame Clément, and she returns to Houston Grand Opera for the world premiere of The Phoenix by composer Tarik O’Regan and librettist John Caird.  Other appearances on the international operatic stage include a new production of Handel’s Serse for the Internationale Händel-Festspiele Karlsruhe directed by Max Emanuel Cencic and conducted by Georg Petrou and the role of Magnolia Hawks in Francesca Zambello’s production of Show Boat for The Glimmerglass Festival.  Highlights of the concert stage include Bernstein’s Candide with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, a program of Haydn and Mozart with Bernard Labadie and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, Messiah with the Cleveland Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic, and a program of Bach and Couperin with Ars Lyrica Houston.

About Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Under the musical direction of Nicholas McGegan for the past 35 years, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) is recognized as America’s leading historically informed ensemble. Using authentic instruments and stylistic conventions of the Baroque to early-Romantic periods, the orchestra engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national tours, recordings, commissions, and education projects of the highest standard. Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area 39 years ago, the ensemble is the largest of its kind in the United States and is known for its versatility in programming and joyful performances.

Each season welcomes eminent guest artists such as mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, violoncellist Steven Isserlis, and maestros Jonathan Cohen and Richard Egarr. The Orchestra enjoys numerous collaborations, including an ongoing partnership with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and tours regularly to venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tanglewood, and Yale’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of nearly 50 recordings and launched its own label in 2011, on which it has released ten recordings, including a coveted archival performance of mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in Berlioz’s Les Nuits D’été, and a GRAMMY®-nominated recording of Haydn symphonies. The orchestra released a recording of its modern North American premiere of Alessandro Scarlatti’s La Gloria di Primavera, which coincided with a tour in May 2016, and released the world premiere recording of the original version of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with the unedited libretto by Voltaire in July 2018.

PBO launched its New Music for Old Instruments Initiative in 2016 as an effort to commission and perform new works written expressly for period instruments. Recent commissions include a large-scale work by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw called The Listeners, which premiered in October 2019; a three-song cycle by Shaw, premiered by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter at Walt Disney Concert Hall and Lincoln Center; and To Hell and Back by Guggenheim Fellow  Jake Heggie. Future seasons bring new commissions by Matthew Aucoin and Mason Bates.

Under the superb direction of Bruce Lamott, the Philharmonia Chorale is critically acclaimed for its brilliant sound, robust energy, and sensitive delivery of the text, the Philharmonia Chorale was formed in 1995 to provide a vocal complement whose fluency in the stylistic language of the baroque period matched that of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Chorale members appear regularly with organizations such as the San Francisco Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, and American Bach Soloists, are guest soloists with most of the area’s symphonic and choral organizations, appear in roles with regional opera companies, and have been members and founders of some of the country’s premier vocal ensembles, including Chanticleer, the Dale Warland Singers, and Theatre of Voices. Founded by John Butt, a baroque keyboardist and one of the world’s leading Bach scholars, the Chorale has been led by Lamott since 1997.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg. Richard Egarr will become Music Director effective with the 2020/21 season.

Stephanie Li
Marketing Associate