The Grammy-nominated early music ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston proudly announces 20 Years of Magic, a 2023/24 season celebrating two decades of music-making. This 20th anniversary season comprises six subscription programs, including a fully staged Handel opera, and features world-class soloists alongside a core period-instrument ensemble of “sophisticated musical prowess” (San Diego Story). Subscription programs take place in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, St. Philip Presbyterian Church, and Duncan Recital Hall at Rice University.
The season gets underway on September 22 in Zilkha Hall with Fallen Angels, program that highlights the paranormal in Baroque music. Four extraordinary singers and a colorful orchestra will perform a collection of musical enchantments including spirited masques from Purcell’s Fairy Queen and Giacomo Carissimi’s harrowing Judgement of Solomon.
Ecstatic Visions on November 3 offers a transcendent experience for listeners with a spectacular Baroque showstopper for soprano and orchestra and rapturous instrumental music. Soprano Sherezade Panthaki, described as an “astonishing coloratura with radiant top notes” (Calgary Herald), will perform G. F. Handel’s remarkable yet rarely heard Silete Venti alongside oboist Kathryn Montoya and violinist Andrew Fouts.
The festive holiday program on December 12, Awe and Wonder, features two major works for chorus and orchestra, one on the creation story and the other on the incarnation of Christ. An eight-person vocal ensemble will fill the resonant St. Philip Presbyterian Church with the music of C. P. E. Bach, Heinrich Biber, and Marc-Antoine Charpentier.
Fugal Games on January 13 in Duncan Recital Hall at Rice University celebrates the release of Artistic Director Matthew Dirst’s latest book on Bach’s Art of Fugue and Musical Offering, with a program featuring excerpts from both works. Dirst will be joined by an intimate instrumental ensemble including violinists Elizabeth Blumenstock and Stephen Redfield and traverso player Colin St-Martin on this quintessentially Baroque program.
The all-French concert Visions and Reveries on March 16 showcases Ars Lyrica favorite and world-renowned soprano Lauren Snouffer, whose singing has been described as “effervescent” (New York Times). The program features delightful lyric cantatas on mythological themes by Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
The most significant undertaking of the 2023/24 Ars Lyrica season is a production of G. F. Handel’s Amadigi di Gaula, one of the composer’s famed “magic” operas. Tara Faircloth directs and Matthew Dirst conducts a cast that includes sopranos Raven McMillon and Camille Ortiz and countertenors Randall Scotting and Nicholas Garza in this Houston premiere on May 24 and 25. Following the latter performance, patrons may enjoy a Post-Opera Soirée celebrating 20 Years of Magic at Diana American Grill.