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 of Ulysses 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.