Easter Oratorio

Saturday, July 30, 7:30 PM

Artists: Festival Orchestra, Chorale, and Soloists (Clara Rottsolk, soprano; Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano; Thomas Cooley, tenor; Dashon Burton, bass-baritone), conducted by Nicholas McGegan

JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU  Suite from Dardanus
(1683–1764) Overture
Air vif
ler Air–Grave
Air: ‘Lieux Funestes”
     Thomas Cooley, tenor
Air Gai ‘Les Niais de Sologne’
(1685–1750) 1. Sinfonia
2. Adagio
3. Duetto e Coro: “Kommt, eilet und laufet”
4. Recitativo: “O Kalter Männer Sinn”
5. Aria: “Seele, deine Spezereien”
6. Recitativo: “Hier ist die Gruft”
7. Aria: “Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer”
8. Recitativo ed Arioso: “Indessen seufzen wir – Ach! Ach!
Könnt’es doch nur bald geschehen”
9. Aria: “Saget, saget mir geschwinde”
10. Recitativo e Coro: “Wir sind erfreut — Preis und Dank”
11. Chorale: “Es hat mi tuns num keine Nott”


Program Notes

French 18th century composer and music theorist Jean-Philippe Rameau is most famous for his contributions to the French operatic tradition, arguably second only to the father of French opera, Jean-Baptiste Lully.

Rameau’s Suite from Dardanus includes 14 delightful musical vignettes taken from his opera which premiered in 1739. The opera’s reception was dampened by its weak libretto, and in the orchestral suite, it becomes clear the music is transcendent on its own.

Dardanus is based on Greek mythology, which was a popular theme in the developing French genre of tragédie en musique, but the libretto was criticized for being too light-hearted and mythologically inaccurate to be a tragic opera. The story follows Dardanus, the son of Zeus and Electra, through a fairytale-like journey, where Dardanus is secretly in love with Iphise, the daughter of his enemy, King Teucer. But after Dardanus successfully defeats a monster, he wins the princess’s hand, and they all live happily ever after. It’s not difficult to see why this storyline fell short of the audience’s expectations, but the music, which is regarded by musicologists as one of Rameau’s richest scores, was seemingly strong enough to prevent the show’s failure. Performances of the opera continued after Rameau’s death, however seldomly, and it was granted new life as an orchestral suite in the 20th century.

The Suite opens in the spirit of a festive Renaissance dance highlighted by tambourin jingles and rhythmic drumming. The second and fourth movements star the Baroque flutes’ floating melodies and luscious oboe lines. Movement five, Rigaudon, boasts captivating rhythmic undercurrents performed by the low strings. The final movement, Chaconne, features the warmth of the woodwind section, bright fanfares in the brass, and virtuosic passages in the strings leading to a satisfying, peaceful close.

— Jennifer Candiotti


Bach’s Easter Oratorio begins with a Sinfonia that sets the table for a celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Trumpets and drums — brilliant and majestic — lead the way. The effect would have been striking to 18th-century congregants, having heard no extravagant music in church during the 40 days of Lent prior to Easter Sunday.

The Easter Oratorio is not as well-known as Bach’s other major works, which is a bit mystifying since the glorious music is unmistakably Bach. The composer must have been pleased with the work since he borrowed from himself — as Bach often did — and used the music for two different secular cantatas.

The music was first created in 1725 as a secular birthday cantata for Duke Christian of Saxe- Weissenfels with a pastoral text by the poet Christian Friedrich Henrici who wrote under the pen name of Picander. The soloists were shepherds and shepherdesses.

Five weeks later, on Easter Sunday, Bach debuted the work in Leipzig. It was essentially the same music but with different text (probably also by Picander). The soloists became Mary mother of James, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John transforming the secular cantata to a sacred musical drama. The music was heard again a year later with a new secular text, for the birthday of Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming. By 1738 the cantata finally emerged as the Easter Oratorio. This sort of self-plagiarism was a common tactic of Bach’s.

The work is based on the Easter reading from the Gospel of John. Bach emphasizes the meditation on faith over religious theatre, keeping the expressive character of the story in the music: excitement, confusion, and grief. Even the instrumental movements communicate the story’s substance: festive joy in the Sinfonia, uncertainty in the Adagio.

Unlike the St. John Passion and other of Bach’s religious works, the Easter Oratorio has no narrator but has four characters assigned to the vocal soloists: Simon Peter (tenor) and John the Apostle (bass), appearing in the first duet hurrying to Jesus’ grave and finding it empty, meeting there Mary Magdalene (mezzo- soprano) and Mary Jacobe (soprano).

This is sacred music, but it is composed with Bach’s remarkable operatic instinct. In the soprano aria (No.5), a beautiful flute solo becomes a symbol for the consoling Holy Spirit. In the tenor aria (No.7), Peter observes the shroud that wrapped Jesus and now his own fear of death can rest.

This was originally a secular cantata about shepherds and shepherdesses. The text speaks of spiritual comfort but the soothing music featuring a pair of flutes could easily accompany a peaceful pastoral scene — with grazing sheep perhaps.

Bach portrays conflicting emotions in the mezzo-soprano aria (No.9) with music that is surprisingly cheerful: Mary Magdalene is overjoyed at the news of the Resurrection,
but longs for the presence of Jesus. When the dance-like music slows and Mary Magdalene’s anguished exhalations are matched by an oboe d’amore, the effect is even more intense.

Dance rhythms are present in the entire work. Uniquely for Bach, the first three movements are all triple-time dances — two exuberant gigues framing a mournful sarabande — and the remaining arias and final chorus a Baroque dance suite: minuet, bourrée, gavotte, and gigue.


— Scott Seward



Jul 30 2022


7:30 pm

Starting at



  • Meg Bragle
    Meg Bragle
    Mezzo-soprano Soloist

    Widely praised for her musical intelligence, American mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle is quickly earning an international reputation as one of today’s most gifted and versatile mezzo-sopranos.

    Frequently a featured soloist with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, she made her BBC Proms debut with them singing Bach’s Easter and Ascension Oratorios, has performed with them at the Leipzig Bachfest and the Prague Spring, Luzerne, Aldeburgh and Brighton festivals, and has made four recordings with the group including the recently released Bach B Minor Mass.

    Meg has sung in North America and Europe with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Les Violons du Roy, Apollo’s Fire, and the Dunedin Consort. She has also appeared with many symphony orchestras in the US and Canada including the Houston, Indianapolis, Pacific, and Colorado Symphonies; the National Arts Center Orchestra, and a series of concerts with the Calgary Philharmonic including Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

    Highlights of her 2016/17 season include appearances with Milwaukee Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Dunedin Consort, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Early Music Vancouver. Meg also performs this season at the Winter Park, Carmel Bach, and London Baroque Festivals, with Voices of Music, and Catacoustic Consort. Other recent highlights include Bruno Moretti’s Vespro with New York City Ballet, tours of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Christmas Oratorio with the Netherlands Bach Society and Bach’s Lutheran Masses with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

    Her recent opera roles include Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Dido and the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Dardano in Handel’s Amadigi, Amastre in Handel’s Serse, Speranza in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Ippolita in Cavalli’s Elena, and Elpina in Vivaldi’s La Fida Ninfa.

    In addition to those with the English Baroque Soloists, she has made several recordings with Apollo’s Fire: Mozart’s Requiem (Koch), Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (Avie), and Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine (Avie), and L’Orfeo (Eclectra). Other recordings include Cozzolani’s Vespro della Beata Vergine and Messa Paschale with Magnificat (Musica Omnia), Music of Medieval Love with New York’s Ensemble for Early Music (Ex Cathedra), Toby Twining’s Chrysalid Requiem (Cantaloupe), Anthony Newman’s Requiem (Khaeon World Music) and Copland’s In the Beginning with the late John Scott and the Men and Boy Choir of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue and the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte on their own labels.

  • Clara Rottsolk
    Clara Rottsolk
    Soprano soloist

    A native of Seattle, soprano Clara Rottsolk earned her music degrees at Rice University and Westminster Choir College, and was recognized for musical excellence by the Metropolitan Opera National Council (Northwest Region). She is based in Philadelphia and teaches voice at Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr College. In a repertoire extending from the Renaissance to the contemporary, her solo appearances have taken her across the United States, the Middle East, Japan, and South America. She specializes in historically informed performance practice singing with orchestras and chamber ensembles including American Bach Soloists, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Les Délices, Pacific MusicWorks, the American Classical Orchestra, St. Thomas Church 5th Avenue, Bach Collegium San Diego, Atlanta Baroque, Trinity Wall Street, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Folger Consort, and ARTEK among others.

  • Thomas Cooley
    Thomas Cooley
    Tenor Soloist

    Minnesota-born tenor Thomas Cooley has established a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic — and beyond — as a singer of great versatility, expressiveness, and virtuosity.

    Possessing a lyric tenor voice of great flexibility, dynamic range, and precision, he has appeared with such conductors as Helmuth Rilling, Donald Runnicles, Osmo Vänskä, Eji Oue, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Nicholas McGegan, Robert Spano, David Robertson, Carlo Rizzi, Franz Welser-Möst, Manfred Honneck, Michael Schønwandt, Gil Shohat, and Kryzstof Penderecki. His repertoire on the concert stage comprises works such as Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Berlioz’s Requiem, Nuits d’été and L’enfance du Christ, Haydn’s Seasons, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Handel’s Messiah, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus, Honneger’s King David, Mozart’s Requiem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Bernstein’s Candide, and Penderecki’s Credo. He is frequently invited to perform in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a role that has taken him to Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Italy, Spain, and throughout the United States. In the Baroque repertoire he is a well-known interpreter of the works of Bach and Handel, most especially in the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s Passions and in the great oratorios of Handel.

    Recent and upcoming appearances of note include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony; Britten’s War Requiem with the Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Oregon Symphonies; Handel’s Messiah with the Oregon, Houston, and Charlotte Symphonies as well as the Calgary Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestra; “ Peter Quint” in Britten’s Turn of the Screw with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Bob Boles in Britten’s Peter Grimes with the St. Louis Symphony in Carnegie Hall; the title role in Handel’s Samson with the American Classical Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall (Nicholas McGegan conducting); the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Creation Oratorio with Atlanta Symphony; “Tristan” in Frank Martin’s Le vin herbé with Bergen National Opera; “Crown Prince” in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night with Cincinnati Opera; “Acis” in a new production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea and L’Allegro with the Mark Morris Dance Group; Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Seattle Symphony and St. John Passion with Pacific Musicworks and the Pittsburgh Symphony; and performances at the Oregon and Carmel Bach Festivals.

    As Artist in Residence with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, Cooley performs Monteverdi’s Vespers, Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, and a program of Bach Cantatas this season.

  • Dashon Burton
    Dashon Burton
    Bass-baritone Soloist

    Dashon Burton returns to the Carmel Bach Festival for a fifth season as bass-baritone soloist. The Bronx, New York native was previously a member of the Chorale. Praised for his “nobility and rich tone,” Burton has established a world-wide career in opera, recital, and in many works with orchestra. He is a regular guest with the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst. Dashon has won prizes from the ARD International Music Competition and the International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and from the Oratorio Society of New York and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s Competition for Young American Singers. He graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and received his Master of Music degree from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.

    Dashon Burton appears by arrangement with Colbert Artists Management, Inc., 307 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2006, New York NY 10001.
    Forays into more varied repertoire have included his performances of Michael Tippet’s A Child of our Time at Harvard, Barber’s Dover Beach, and Hans Eisler’s Ernste Gesaenge with A Far Cry chamber orchestra in Boston, Copland’s Old American Songs with the Kansas City Symphony, Schubert’s Die Winterreise with string quartet, and performances and recording of Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard with the vocal group Conspirare. Last season, he premiered Paul Moravec’s new oratorio, Sanctuary Road, at Carnegie Hall and performed David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

    Dashon’s 2018/19 season begins with his debut at the Salzburg Festival in Salomé. He sings Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and with the Cincinnati Symphony, Dvoark’s Stabat Mater with the Houston Symphony, Mozart’s Coronation Mass et al. with Philharmonia Baroque, the C minor Mass with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the Requiem with the Bethlehem Bach Festival and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He sings also Haydn’s Creation and the role of Zebul in Handel’s Jeptha, the Verdi Requiem, Moussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death, and returns to the Cleveland Orchestra for a subscription week of Schubert’s Mass in E flat Major in May. December finds him performing with the contemporary vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, of which Dashon is an original member, at Paris’Théatre de la Ville in Peter Sellars’ production of Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus, un ritual de mort.

    Burton returns to Trinity Wall St. for a Baroque recital this season. For his other recitals in Boston and San Francisco, the program is based on his recording Songs of Struggle and Redemption: We Shall Overcome, singled out by the New York Times as “profoundly moving…a beautiful and lovable disc” in its May 2016 Classical Play list.

    Burton’s opera engagements include singing Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte in Dijon and Paris, and the role of Jupiter in Rameau’s Castor and Pollux with Christoph Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques. He has toured Europe in the St. John Passion with Christoph Prégardien’s Le Concert Lorraine, and in Italy with Maasaki Suzuki and the Yale Schola Cantorum in the St. Matthew Passion, a work he also sang on tour in the Netherlands with the NNSO.

    Dashon has won prizes from the ARD international Music Competition and the International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and from the Oratorio Society of New York and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s Competition for Young American Singers. He graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and received his Master of Music degree from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.

Sunset Center Theater


Sunset Center Theater
San Carlos St between 8th and 10th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93921

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