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Magnificat Baroque Ensemble / Press

“On Sunday afternoon, in Grace Cathedral, Magnificat celebrated. Fielding a team of 10 extraordinary singers, Artistic Director Warren Stewart conducted a splendid performance of the 1610 Vespers, accompanied by four string players, organ and theorbo continuo, and six players of a variety of Renaissance winds: The Whole Noise and guests.”

“Sunday's performance, ably led by Artistic Director Warren Stewart, made a strong case for this little-known work. The eight-member instrumental ensemble offered solid, rhythmically alert accompaniment, and the cast sang splendidly throughout. Soprano Catherine Webster and bass Peter Becker, in the title roles, combined clarity and eloquence in equal measure, while countertenor José Lemos' vocal flights as Cupid lent the character an air of extravagant fancy. The chorus of shepherds and huntsmen was ably sung by Jennifer Paulino, Clifton Massey, Paul Elliott and Hugh Davies, and eight members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus brought vivacious charm to the scene of Cupid's lesson.”

“Blow's flowing melodies were performed beautifully by Magnificat (with members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus as the Graces). Special mention should be made of soprano Catherine Webster's Venus, countertenor José Lemos' Cupid (his Lesson was especially amusing) and bass Peter Becker's Adonis, all of whom were excellently sung and characterized. Magnificat made a compelling case for the work; given its obviously high quality and modest scale, I'm amazed that it isn't programmed more frequently. I've been interested in Baroque opera, and this work in particular, for more than a decade and a half, but this was my first opportunity to see it performed. Thanks are due to Stewart and Magnificat for bringing this unjustly neglected work to life.”

“Magnificat’s dazzling singers have done it again. As part of their ongoing project to perform and record the complete works of Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, four singers brought her glorious music vividly to life.”

“The combination of musical elegance and witty stagecraft was often irresistible, and the general notion of puppet opera seemed more vital than ever.”

“Magnificat’s sterling trio of vocalists and sextet of instrumentalists approached the piece with great elegance, imparting a sense of grace, fluidity, and intimacy.”