From Bill's Desk

Double Debut Weekend

Jordi Savall and Les Concert des Nations;
Baroque Dialogues: Grace and Folly
February 22

Operatic Doubleheader:
Eric Owens and Lawrence Brownlee
Craig Terry, piano
February 24

It is always a thrill to finally welcome an artist who has been on my wish list for years to McCarter, and who, for once, more than justifies the title “legendary“ — Jordi Savall. For more than 40 years, he and his collectives known as Hesperion XXI and Les Concert des Nations have maintained the gold standard in medieval, Renaissance, and baroque music. But what makes him a true “superstar” is his mastery of the viola da gamba; no one else even comes close. It all started with the 1991 film Tous les matins du Monde. Savall’s soundtrack celebrated the composers of France’s grand siècle: Lully (who shaped the musical tastes of an entire century), Couperin, and the film’s two composer protagonists, Jean de Sante-Colombe and Marin Marais (the latter played by Gerard Depardieu). So what will you hear when Savall and Les Concert des Nations come to McCarter? In their program of “Baroque Dialogues,” they will offer music for solo and multiple viols, graceful dances, dramatic character pieces, all curated by Savall, who has been a one-man industry in preserving the music of an age, both in concert and on over 100 recordings.

I first heard Eric Owens years ago as General Leslie Groves in John Adams’ opera Doctor Atomic, and knew I had to bring him to McCarter at some point. Little did I know that the opportunity would present itself when not one but two operatic planets would collide on our stage with both Owens and his colleague, the tenor Lawrence Brownlee, in joint recital. Suffice it to say that if Jonas Kaufman is today’s tenor du jour, then Owens is unquestionably opera’s bass-baritone of the moment. He was Alberich in the Met’s last Ring Cycle, and is currently the Wanderer/Wotan in the Chicago version of the Ring. Name a role and an opera house? He’s been there and done it, from Porgy to Macbeth. The same can be said for his recital partner, who has made a specialty of the opera’s most difficult and challenging bel canto tenor roles. Brownlee’s most recent CD, devoted to Rossini arias, was nominated for a Grammy, and prompted Alex Ross of The New Yorker to write, “Is there a finer Rossini tenor than Lawrence Brownlee?” We’ll let you provide the answer (hint: it’s “no”), since the program he and Owens have chosen will include everything from soup to nuts: arias by Donizetti, Verdi, Bizet, Mozart and Gounod; traditional African-American spirituals; American popular songs; and winding up with gospel favorites.

W.W. Lockwood Jr.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2019

Jordi Savall & Le Concert des Nations

Music inspired by the film Tous les matins du monde

Jordi Savallthe world’s most celebrated gambist, has brought humanity, unique artistry, and virtuosity to his tireless exploration of early music that has spanned half a century. In his McCarter debut, his ensemble will play the music inspired by the 1992 French hit film Tous le matins du monde (starring Gérard Depardieu) by Marin Marais, Couperin, Lully, Rameau and others.

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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2019

Eric Owens & Lawrence Brownlee

Eric Owens, bass-baritone
Lawrence Brownlee, tenor
Craig Terry, piano

Two mega-stars of today’s opera stages join forces for the first time in a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration.

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