2009-2010 – Magnificat’s 19th Season
2009-2010 was one of Magnificat’s most expansive seasons, featuring music by two remarkable women and two pioneers of the new music of the seventeenth century. The programs ranged from a puppet opera to a liturgical reconstruction and culminated with two appearance at the 2010 Berkeley Festival and Exhibition and the release of volume one of the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani.
The season opened with the return of the Carter Family Marionettes for an unforgettable production of Francesca Caccini’s opera La Liberatione di Ruggiero. Almost decade had past since Magnificat had collaborated with the Carters on Fuzelier’s parody of Lully’s opera Atys and Melani’s Il Girello. As Magnificat’s artistic director noted in an SFCV review “Hardly a concert has gone by since then when an audience member hasn’t come up to me to ask when we’ll do another puppet show. The Carters are great at connecting with the audience and already had a very funny and engaging production of La liberazione in their repertory.”
The daughter of Giulio Caccini, one of the leading proponents of the nuove musiche of the early 17th century, Francesca had a remarkable career in her own right as a performer and teacher, but above all, as a highly respected composer to the Granducato of Tuscany. We were grateful for the advice and support of Caccini biographer Suzanne Cusick who contributed three excellent essays to the is blog (Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero and the Culture of Women, What is Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero About? and Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court.) The role of Alcina was sung memorably by Catherine Webster, with José Lemos in the trangender role of Melissa and Scott Whitaker as Ruggiero. The cast also included Jennifer Paulino, Dan Hutchings and Hugh Davies.
In December Magnificat returned to the music of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, performing her four-voice setting of the Mass Ordinary from Concerti sacri (1642) in the context of a mass for Christmas Day. The performances from the version on Magnificat’s recording, which was arranged for eight voices. Proper substitutes were drawn from Cozzolani’s motets.
In February, Magnificat presents concerts featuring soprano Laura Heimes in music by Alessandro Grandi, including the modern premieres of several cantatas from Grandi’s 1620 collection Cantade et Arie, notable as the earliest publication to use the term “cantata.” The sole surviving copy of the first edition was thought to have been destroyed during the second World War but another copy had in fact been preserved in the private collection of Rodrigo de Zayas in Seville. Thanks to musicologists Aurelio Bianco and Giulia Giovani, Magnificat was given the opportunity to perform several of Grandi’s cantatas. The program also included instrumental music by Picchi, Castello, and Kapsberger.
The season concluded with three performances marking the 400th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s monumental Vespers of 1610, the final concert before a sellout crowd at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. As in Magnificat’s 1610 Vespers productions in 1994 and 1999, Magnificat was joined by the early wind ensemble The Whole Noyse.
In June, Magnificat appeared at the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition in two concerts, the first featured nine motets from Cozzolani’s Concerti sacri and the second as part of a finale concert bringing all the ‘main stage’ ensembles from the festival together under the direction of Magnificat artistic director Warren Stewart in a Venetian Vespers from Monteverdi to Vivaldi. “The program grew out of desire to create something unique”, commented Stewart, “a genuinely ‘festive’ end to the week-long festival. The basic structure was built around the vespers liturgy but for the specific works I worked with each of the ensembles and managed to fashion a well-balanced program that allowed everyone to shine.” In addition to Magnificat, the massed ensemble included Archetti, Artek, AVE, the Marion Verbruggen Trio, Music’s Recreation, and Sacabouche.
During the week of the festival Magnificat also celebrated the completion of their recordings of Cozzolani’s complete works with a CD release party at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in San Francisco. In addition to Cozzolani motets, the audience was treated to instrumental sonatas by Isabella Leonarda in what was an unforgettable evening for all involved.
Over the course of the 2009-2010 season artistic director Warren Stewart directed ensembles that included Elizabeth Anker, Annette Bauer, Peter Becker, Meg Bragle, Louise Carslake, Hugh Davies, Rob Diggins, Kristin Dubenion Smith, Jolianne Einem, Paul Elliott, Jennifer Kampani, Steve Escher, Jeff Fields, Katherine Heater, Laura Heimes, Richard Van Hessel, Dan Hutchings, Jennifer Lane, Chris LeCluyse, José Lemos, Herb Myers, Jennifer Paulino, Hanneke van Proosdij, Ernie Rideout, Sandy Stadtfeld, Robby Stafford, David Tayler, Brian Thorsett, Kiri Tollaksen, Catherine Webster, and David Wilson.