Philharmonia Baroque Plans Rameau Opera for 2017

Mark MacNamara on April 13, 2016
Philharmonia Baroque | Credit: Suzanne Karp


Philharmonia Baroque recently announced its program for 2016-17, The climax of the season is a piece of music never performed before a modern audience.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra first took the stage in 1981 and has become renowned for its “historically-informed performances of Baroque and early Romantic music on original instruments.”  Under Music Director Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque has been named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

The orchestra is complemented by the Philharmonia Chorale, which was formed in 1995 and includes 24 professional singers. The director is Bruce Lamott.

Highlights of the new season include an “all Beethoven” program in October, featuring Harvard professor of musicology and fortepianist Robert Levin performing Beethoven's Concerto No.3. In November, violinist Rachel Podger will lead a program of concertos.

Nicholas McGegan | Credit: Randi Beach

In December, Maestro McGegan leads the Orchestra & Chorale in Handel's oratorio Joshua, with Yulia van Doren, soprano; Daniel Taylor, countertenor; Thomas Cooley, tenor; and William Berger, baritone. In January, violinist Isabelle Faust performs Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 on a Haydn and Mozart program.

In March, guest conductor Jonathan Cohen leads the orchestra with countertenor Iestyn Davies in a series of works, including arias from Handel’s Saul and Theodora, Hasse’s Didone Abbandonata, Gluck’s Telemaco and Orfeo ed Euridice, and Thomas Arne’s "Vengeance, O come inspire me!" from The Masque of Alfred.

The climax of the season, in April 2017, is a full-scale production of Rameau's five-act opera-ballet, The Temple of Glory. PBO is collaborating with Cal Performances and Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles to co-present the original version of La temple de la gloire — with libretto by Voltaire — at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. This version has never been performed for a modern audience.

Philharmonia Baroque has been a model of success in the last couple of years. After a decade of declining subscription sales and revenue, the situation stabilized in 2014-15 and then grew significantly this past season. The orchestra saw a 15 percent increase in subscription seat sales and an 18 percent increase in subscription revenue. Single ticket revenue has also picked up. PBO staff attribute the success to dramatic changes in marketing strategy.

Philharmonia Chorale | Credit: Suzanne Karp