Ars Lyrica Houston Presents Houston Premiere Of SAN GIOVANNI BATTISTA

The Grammy nominated Ars Lyrica Houston ensemble performs the Houston premiere of Alessandra Stradella's oratorio, San Giovanni Battista on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 7:30 pm in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Artistic Director Matthew Dirst leads the Ars Lyrica core ensemble and vocal soloists Sherezade Panthaki (soprano), Jay Carter, (countertenor), Joseph Gaines (tenor), and Sam Handley (bass) in the oratorio based on the death of John the Baptist.

The highly acclaimed soloists will thrill with vocal acrobatics as they interpret the dramatic story. Artistic Director Matthew Dirst describes, "we're delighted to present the Houston premiere of Stradella's San Giovanni Battista. This oratorio has been on my list for several years: it's a wonderfully dramatic setting of the story of Herod, Salome, and John the Baptist - with lots of vocal fireworks!"

Soloists: Sherezade Panthaki, soprano; Jay Carter, countertenor; Joseph Gaines, tenor; Sam Handley, bass-baritone

For more information or to purchase tickets, or call the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 713.315.2525. (Press 4 for Ars Lyrica Houston)

Soprano Sherezade Panthaki's international success has been fueled by superbly honed musicianship; "shimmering sensitivity" (Cleveland Plain Dealer); "radiant" voice (TheWashington Post); and vividly passionate interpretations, "mining deep emotion from the subtle shaping of the lines" (The New York Times). An acknowledged star in the early-music field, Ms. Panthaki has ongoing collaborations with leading early music interpreters including Nicholas McGegan, Simon Carrington, Matthew Halls, and Masaaki Suzuki, with whom she made her New York Philharmonic debut. Panthaki's recent performance with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan was named one of the "Top 10 Classical Music Events of 2015." Ms. Panthaki's 2017/18 season features performances of Vivaldi's Gloria with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and the St. Louis Symphony (Nicholas McGegan conducting), the Milwaukee Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, her return to Ars Lyrica, Pasadena Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, and a United States Christmas Oratorio tour with Bach Collegium Japan.

Countertenor Jay Carter has gained recognition as one of the nation's finest countertenors. A collaborator with both period and modern ensembles, Carter is recognized as a leading interpreter of Baroque repertoire and has been lauded for luminous tone, stylish interpretations, and clarion delivery. Recent appearances include Bach's St. Matthew Passion with American Bach Soloists and Choir of St. Thomas Church, Bach's Weinachtsoratorium with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, Handel's Messiah with National Symphony and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Vivaldi's Gloria with Nicholas McGegan and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music as a pupil of Simon Carrington, Judith Malafronte, and James Taylor. He received his undergraduate degree from William Jewell College and studied with Arnold Epley. He lives in Liberty, Missouri with his family, and serves as Artist-in-residence at William Jewell College, mentoring undergraduate students and leading the Schola Cantorum.

Tenor Joseph Gaines, a highly energetic, vibrant, and extremely versatile singer and actor, has been described as "such an exuberant performer you couldn't help but smile" (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune). In 2017 he created the role of Dan Leno in Opera Philadelphia's world premiere of Elizabeth Cree, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning duo of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell; Opera News wrote that the role "offered a field day to light tenor Joseph Gaines, who met the challenge with vocal skill and superb physicality." A regular performer at Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Resonance Works Pittsburgh, and Opera Colorado, recent company debuts include San Diego Opera, Virginia Opera, and Hawaii Opera Theatre. He joined the artist roster of The Metropolitan Opera for the first time in the 2013-14 season. A frequent concert artist, he has been featured with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Detroit Symphony, The Charlotte Symphony, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and many period and chamber ensembles, as well.

Bass-baritone Sam Handley has been praised for "his rich, burnished" voice and the "genuine emotional depth of his characterizations." As a member of Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center, he performed more than a dozen roles, including Quince in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Tom in Un ballo in maschera. After appearing in Il trittico at the Castleton Festival, he returned to sing Colline in La bohème with Lorin Maazel. Charles Ward of The Houston Chronicle has described his "vivid and polished singing" as ". . .leaving the audience panting."Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Sam now lives in Chicago, Illinois, and enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, especially while camping, hiking, sailing, cooking, and fine dining.

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