Agar et Ismaele esiliati
Music by Alessandro Scarlatti
Libretto by Giuseppe Domenico de Totis
Alessandro Scarlatti penned this heartfelt oratorio in 1683 while working as maestro di cappella to Queen Christina of Sweden after she abdicated her throne and settled in Rome. Only a few years before, in 1679, the young Scarlatti had burst onto the musical scene with his opera Gli equivoci nel sembiante. This was during the reign of Pope Innocent XI who censored operatic production in the Eternal City, forcing theaters to close and companies to go underground. Scarlatti and others circumvented the Pope’s stifling strictures by writing dramatic oratorios to be performed without the trappings of theatrical productions.
With a libretto by theatrical writer Giuseppe Domenico de Totis, Agar et Ismaele is an opera in all but name. The biblical story of Hagar and her son Ishmael forced into exile by Abraham and Sarah is set simply for only four vocalists, string orchestra, and continuo. Scarlatti’s beautiful music will carry you along on an emotional journey you won’t soon forget.
Angela Young Smucker, mezzo soprano, as Agar
Kristin Knutson, soprano, as Ismaele
Jill Dewsnup, soprano, as Sara and Angelo
Peter van de Graaff, bass-baritone, as Abramo
Craig Trompeter, Music Director
Performance run time is 90 minutes with no intermission. English supertitles will be projected.
Program available for download.
Angela Young Smucker has earned praise for her “luscious mezzo” (Chicago Tribune) and "powerful stage presence" (The Plain Dealer). Highlights of the 2016-17 season include performances with Bach Collegium San Diego, Chicago A Cappella, Chicago Chorale, Seraphic Fire, and Third Coast Baroque. Ms. Smucker has also been featured with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Oregon Bach Festival, Newberry Consort, Conspirare, Bella Voce, Les Délices, and Carmel Bach Festival. Radio and television appearances include Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, WFMT’s Impromptu and Live from WFMT, and WTTW’s Chicago Tonight. Ms. Smucker holds degrees from University of Minnesota and Valparaiso University – where she also served as instructor of voice for seven years – and is pursuing her doctorate at Northwestern University. She is also a 2015 NATS Intern Program alumna and serves as the Executive Director of Third Coast Baroque.
Soprano Kristin Knutson has appeared as Venus in John Eccles’ The Judgment of Paris, the Shepherdess in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and Musetta in La Bohème. She appeared in the concert version of Candide with the New York Philharmonic, and made her off-Broadway debut in The Music Teacher, written by Wallace and Allen Shawn. On the concert stage, she has appeared as the soprano soloist in Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Dominica with the Master Singers of Milwaukee, excerpts from Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Orchestra of the Redeemer, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate through the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee, and in recital at Alice Tully Hall. She recently participated in the Lute Society of America Festival, Early Music Vancouver’s Baroque Vocal Programme, Haymarket’s Summer Opera Course, and performed as a finalist in the 2015 Handel Aria Competition. Ms. Knutson has performed with the Florentine Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre Center, Opera New Jersey, Main Street Opera, Fresco Opera Theatre, the Skylight Music Theatre, the Fireside Theatre, and the New Group. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School.
Jill Dewsnup specializes in the dramatic coloratura soprano repertoire, triumphing as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, the title role in Anna Bolena, Queen Elizabeth I in Roberto Devereux, and Norma(excerpts in concert), as well as others. In 2014, she performed in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Prince Igor. This season she returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago in Les Troyens, Norma, and Carmen. Last season, she performed in Lyric's highly acclaimed production of Nabucco. In concert she has performed as the soprano soloist in Messiah, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Verdi's Requiem, and Mozart's Coronation Mass. She sang the role of Gabriel in a trio from Haydn’s The Creation for a live television broadcast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Ms. Dewsnup has received numerous awards including: winner of the Young Artist Division of Classical Singer Magazine's Audcomps Competition, the Encouragement Award in the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Vocal Competition, finalist and Carnegie Hall debut with the Nico Castel International Meistersinger Competition, finalist in the Liederkranz Opera Division Competition, and semi finalist in the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition.
Bass-baritone Peter van de Graaff has appeared the symphonies of Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio, Utah, Boulder Bach Festival, and Colorado Springs. He has sung internationally with the Chicago Symphony in Berlin, Czech State Philharmonic, Budapest Concert Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra and the Czech Symphony. He has appeared in festivals internationally in Tokyo, China and Costa Rica and in the United States at the festivals of Grand Teton, San Luis Obispo and Bloomington Early Music, among many others. In Chicago and the Midwest he has appeared with Music of the Baroque, Northbrook Symphony, Rembrandt Chamber Players, Chicago Chamber Musicians, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Haymarket Opera, Florentine Opera, Milwaukee Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, and Cedar Rapids Opera. Mr. van de Graaff has made a specialty of the baroque repertoire and this has brought him as soloist to the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, Costa Rica International Music Festival, Pittsburgh Bach Choir, Grand Teton Music Festival, St. Louis Early Music Festival, and the Boulder Bach Festival. He and his soprano wife have given the modern day premieres of several early 18th-century chamber operas, making recordings on the Naxos and Cedille labels. Peter has been a host of numerous programs at WFMT for 28 years.