Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice was originally written for a castrato in the title role, but when he
reshaped it for Paris, the composer cast Orpheus as a high tenor, the traditional hero of French opera.
This presentation features tenor Aaron Sheehan, fresh from his Grammy-winning performance as Orphée in Charpentier’s opera, in his role-debut as Gluck’s Orphée. Directing the new production is French director Gilbert Blin, celebrated opera director of the Boston Early Music Festival, with choreographer Anna Mansbridge and Grammy-winning conductor Stephen Stubbs.
AMERICAN TENOR AARON SHEEHAN has established himself as a first rate singer in many styles. His voice is heard regularly in the United States, South America, and Europe, and he is equally comfortable in repertoire ranging from oratorio and chamber music, to the opera stage.
His singing has taken him to many festivals and venues including; Tanglewood, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington National Cathedral, the early music festivals of Boston, San Francisco, Vancouver, Houston, Tucson, Washington DC, and Madison, as well as the Regensburg Tage Alter Musik.
Known especially for his Baroque interpretations, his voice has been described by the Boston Globe as "superb: his tone classy, clear, and refined, encompassing fluid lyricism and ringing force" and the Washington Post praised his "Polished, lovely tone."
In the concert world, Aaron has made a name as a first rate interpreter of the oratorios and cantatas of Bach and Handel. The San Diego Classical Voice said, "Tenor Aaron Sheehan performed the role of Evangelist, and sang with assured vocal and linguistic fluency, tasked with telling the audience the story while imparting its drama. In this regard, he was superb."
He has appeared in Concert with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, North Carolina Symphony, New York Collegium, Charlotte Symphony, Boston Cecilia, Charleston Bach Festival, Baltimore Handel Choir, Les Voix Baroque, Pacific Chorale, Boston Early Music Festival, Tempesta di Mare, Aston Magna Festival, Bach Collegium San Diego, Washington National Cathedral, Pacific Music Works, Boston Museum Trio, Magnificat, Tragicomedia, the Folger Consort, and Concerto Palatino.
On the opera stage, Aaron made his professional debut in 2005 as Ivan, in the Boston Early Music Festivals world premiere staging of Mattheson's Boris Gudenow, a role in which Opera News praised his voice as "Sinous and supple". He has since worked with the company in leading roles such as L'Amour and Apollon in Lully's Psyché, Actéon in Charpentier'sActéon, and as Acis in Handel's Acis and Galatea. He also has worked on the opera stage with American Opera Theater and Intermezzo Chamber Opera in leading roles of operas by Cavalli, Handel, Weill, and Satie.
Aaron also continues to work extensively in the chamber music world. He has sung with Theater of Voices, Blue Heron Choir, Tenet, Fortune's Wheel, La Donna Musicale, Folger Consort, Newberry Consort, Dünya, The Rose Ensemble, and the Pro Arte Singers.
Aaron has appeared on many recordings, including the Grammy nominated operas Thésée and Psyché of Lully, recorded with BEMF on the CPO label.
A native of Minnesota, Aaron holds a BA from Luther College and a MM in Early Voice Performance from Indiana University. He is currently on the voice faculties of Boston University, Wellesley College, and Towson University.
After a thirty year career in Europe, musical director and lutenist Stephen Stubbs returned to his native Seattle in 2006. Since then he has established his new production company, Pacific Musicworks, and developed a busy calendar as a guest conductor specializing in baroque opera and oratorio.
With his direction of Stefano Landi’s La Morte d’Orfeo at the 1987 Bruges festival, he began his career as opera director and founded the ensemble Tragicomedia. Since 1997 Stephen has co-directed the bi-annual Boston Early Music Festival opera and is the permanent artistic co-director. BEMF’s recordings of Conradi’s Ariadne, Lully’s Thesee, and Psyché were nominated for Grammy awards in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
Stephen was born in Seattle, Washington, where he studied composition, piano and harpsichord at the University of Washington. In 1974 he moved to England to study lute with Robert Spencer and then to Amsterdam for further study with Toyohiko Satoh and soon became a mainstay of the burgeoning early-music movement there, working with Alan Curtis on Italian opera in Italy, William Christie on French opera in France and various ensembles in England and Germany particularly the Hilliard Ensemble.
With his return to Seattle in 2006 he formed the long-term goal of establishing a company devoted to the study and production of Baroque opera. His first venture in this direction was the creation of the Accademia de’Amore, an annual summer institute for the training of pre-professional singers and musicians in baroque style and stagecraft, now housed at the Cornish College of the Arts.
In 2008 he established Pacific MusicWorks. The company’s inaugural presentation was a revival of South African artist William Kentridge’s acclaimed multimedia marionette staging of Claudio Monteverdi’s penultimate opera The Return ofUlysses in a co-production with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. After a warmly received 2010 presentation of Monteverdi’s monumental Vespers of 1610 at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral, PMW presented a full subscription season, opening with a program based on the Song of Songs and ending with two triumphantly successful performances of Handel’s early masterpiece, The Triumph of Time (1707).
As a guest conductor Stubbs has led performances of Gluck’s Orfeo and Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto in Bilbao, Spain, and Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Amsterdam’s Netherlands Opera. Following his successful debut conducting the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2011, he was invited back in 2012 to conduct the Symphony’s performances of Messiah. He will also debut with the Edmonton Symphony in Messiah this season.
Stephen Stubbs is Senior Artist in Residence and member of the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Washington.