San Francisco • November 12 2019
American Bach Soloists present "Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral"

“A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera” returns to San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre
American Bach Soloists (ABS) present "Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral"

This holiday season, the American Bach Soloists’ December concerts begin with three performances of Handel’s treasured masterwork,  Messiah , in San Francisco’s resounding Grace Cathedral. Jeffrey Thomas will conduct the ABS period-instrument orchestra, the acclaimed American Bach Choir, and an outstanding quartet of soloists, totaling 72 musicians.

Now beginning their fourth decade of celebrated Bay Area performances, and well into the third decade of annual presentations of Handel’s  Messiah  in Grace Cathedral, American Bach Soloists have established a singular holiday tradition with these concerts. Noted especially for their adept mastery of complex and technically difficult choruses that call upon each singer to demonstrate control over Baroque coloratura, the American Bach Choir under Thomas’s direction have established themselves as experts particularly in the music of Handel and Bach. 

Having released both a critically acclaimed audio recording of Handel’s autograph score version (as he composed the work before making performance-related modifications) and a Blu-ray/DVD High-Definition Audio film of “Handel’s  Messiah  in Grace Cathedral”, the ensemble focused on presenting nearly all known versions of  Messiah  as it was performed under Handel’s direction in the 1740s-1750s over the course of their performances of the work in San Francisco. Now, having completed the cycle, the versions heard in recent seasons reflect Handel’s last performances, when it was presented as an event to raise funds for the benefit of orphaned and abandoned children at one of 18th-century London’s most important charitable institutions.

ABS offers a 21-minute YouTube documentary about this topic:

Each season’s performances present a carefully chosen and balanced quartet of vocal soloists, all noted for their gifts at bringing such Baroque works to life. The 2019 quartet features Canadian soprano Hélène Brunet, the ABS debut of mezzo-soprano Rebecca Powers, tenor Steven Brennfleck, and baritone Hadleigh Adams (a favorite of San Francisco Opera patrons).

Listing Information:

Handel’s Messiah in Grace Cathedral
December 11–13, 2019
American Bach Soloists • American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Hélène Brunet, soprano • Rebecca Powers, mezzo-soprano
Steven Brennfleck, tenor • Hadleigh Adams, baritone

Wednesday December 11 2019 7:30 p.m. • Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco
Thursday December 12 2019 7:30 p.m. • Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco
Friday December 13 2019 7:30 p.m. • Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco

TICKETS: or call 800-595-4849
“What stood out above all, in this annual rite that drew a huge crowd, was the sense of being addressed directly, personally, confidingly. Conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought it all together, melding his ABS forces with precision and intuitive responsiveness to Handel’s capacious 1742 masterwork.”
Steven Winn,  San Francisco Classical Voice

“The truly splendid ABS choir, with its round and transparent tone, tied both the evening and Handel’s message together.”
Niels Swinkels,  San Francisco Classical Voice
Hélène Brunet, soprano
Rebecca Powers, mezzo-soprano • Steven Brennfleck, tenor • Hadleigh Adams, baritone
American Bach Choir
“A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera” returns to San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre

At the end of last season’s enormously popular New Year’s Eve concert, ABS music director Jeffrey Thomas announced that American Bach Soloists would be back at the end of 2019 for a reprise of the event. The delightful program of arias and instrumental music from opera and concert turned out to be one of the hottest tickets in town. This late afternoon performance in San Francisco’s beautiful Herbst Theatre — a cornerstone and jewel among the city’s most prestigious venues — will joyfully ring in the New Year in elegant style and offers an opportunity for audience members to bring friends and family to celebrate a New Year full of wonderful music!

The exciting voices of two young artists who have already established themselves as exceptionally talented singers will be presented in arias from Handel's  Agrippina, Ariodante, Giulio Cesare, Orlando , and  Riccardo I, ré d'Inghilterra ; Rameau's  Castor et Pollux  and  Hippolyte et Aricie ; and  Vivaldi's Il Bajazet . Additionally, the period-instrument specialists of American Bach Soloists will perform sinfonias, ballet music, and dances from operas by Vivaldi, Handel, and Marais. Well suited to the Baroque opera repertory, ABS Music Director has been praised by  Opera News : “Jeffrey Thomas draws crisp, vital playing from the ace baroque instrumentalists of American Bach Soloists, who provide galvanizing vigor but also caress the gut strings of their period instruments with unusual beauty.”
Sarah Coit, mezzo-soprano • Hadleigh Adams, baritone
Sarah Coit  (mezzo-soprano) was a Vocal Fellow with Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute in 2018, and made several important role and house debuts there.  Opera News  praised her performance as Cherubino in  Le nozze di Figaro  with Michigan Opera Theatre: “Sarah Coit’s burnished mezzo-soprano gave her Cherubino a seductive tinge. Her pure, lovely “ Voi che sapete ” confirmed her bright future, made all the more likely by her undeniable aptitude for physical comedy.   ” She was also heard as Addison Moore in a workshop performance of John de los Santos and Clint Borzoni’s  The Copper Queen  with Arizona Opera at Opera America. In the 2018-2019 season, she performed the role of Adonis in the world premiere of Dan Visconti and Cerise Jacobs’ “interactive video game opera”  PermaDeath  with White Snake Projects in Boston. 

She made her Seattle Opera debut as Mercédès in Bizet’s  Carmen , performed at the Ravinia Festival as a soloist in Bernstein’s  Songfest , joined West Edge Opera as Jenny Diver in John Gay’s  The Threepenny Opera , sang her first Olga in Pushkin’s  Eugene Onegin  with Livermore Valley Opera, and performed as a soloist in Bach’s Magnificat and Vivaldi’s Gloria   with the Master Chorale of South Florida. Ms. Coit will be heard in 2020 again as Mercédès in  Carmen  with Opera Tampa and Rosina in Rossini’s  Il barbiere di Siviglia  with Utah Opera. In the summer of 2015, she was a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of St. Louis where she covered Richard in the American premiere of Handel’s  Riccardo primo, re d’Inghilterra . She spent two years as a Resident Artist with Utah Opera, where she sang the Shepherd, White Cat, and Squirrel in  L’Enfant et les sortilèges  with the Utah Symphony and performed the roles of Mercédès in  Carmen  and Zerlina in Mozart’s  Don Giovanni  on the mainstage. As an apprentice artist at the Santa Fe Opera, she covered the roles of Erika in Barber’s  Vanessa , and Laurene Powell Jobs in the world premiere of Mason Bates’  The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs . As Alisa in Donizetti’s  Lucia di Lammermoor Classical Review  remarked “…mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit distinguished herself as Alisa, especially in the gorgeous sextet.” Sarah Coit was a 2017 National semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has received prizes from the George London Foundation and the Handel Aria Competition. A native of Spring Hill, Florida, Ms. Coit holds degrees in Music Studies and Theatre Performance from the University of South Florida and a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Hadleigh Adams  (baritone) has been hailed a “comic tour de force” by Alex Ross of  The New Yorker  following last year’s performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Performing repertoire that spans from Rameau and Vivaldi to Ades and Francesconi, he is an artist equally at home on the opera stage and in the concert hall. This season’s highlights include the West coast premiere of Luca Francesconi’s  Quartett  (Valmont), three mainstage productions with the San Francisco Opera, including their new production of Puccini’s  Tosca (Angelotti), his European debut with the Nederlandse Reisopera in Sondheim’s  A Little Night Music  (Carl Magnus), a debut with the Ravinia Festival, and a return to the Cincinnati Opera for Gounod’s  Romeo et Juliette  (Mercutio). On the concert platform he performs Orff’s  Carmina Burana  with the San Francisco Symphony, and Handel’s  Messiah  with Houston Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

Mr. Adams made his professional debut in Jonathan Miller’s 2012 staging of Bach’s  St Matthew Passion  at the Royal National Theatre, London. His performance of Christus was described by  The Guardian  as “tremendous…utterly beguiling.” Since then he’s taken the same role with the Colorado Symphony, sung Bach cantatas with ensembles like the Atlanta Symphony, and performed Beethoven’s Mass in C with Philharmonia Baroque. He sang the role of Pollux in Rameau’s  Castor et Pollux  and the title role in Vivaldi’s  Bajazet , both for Pinchgut Opera, Sydney. He also made a resounding New York debut as Zoroastro in R. B. Schlather’s staging of Handel’s  Orlando  at the Whitebox Art Centre, New York: a performance singled out by  The New York Times  for its “glowering presence” and by  Opera Today  as a “show-stopper…the audience tingled with excitement every time he stepped onto the stage.” “Adams manages to use his gorgeous instrument with ease and beauty,” that review continued, “under the strain of outlandish costumes or unusual staging. His movement is deft and cat-like, and his sound precision never suffers as he maneuvers the stage with the agility of a seasoned dancer.” Next year, Mr. Adams makes returns to the San Francisco Opera in Handel’s  Partenope  (Ormonte). Among his many concert engagements, he will perform Beethoven’s ninth symphony with the Colorado Symphony, and  Messiah  with the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. Previous highlights included Lou Harrison’s  Young Caesar (Nicomedes), Bernstein’s “Mass” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Stravinsky’s  Oedipus Rex  with the London Philharmonia Orchestra. Mr. Adams studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and is a former Merola artist and Adler Fellow of the San Francisco Opera.

Listing Information:

A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera
December 31, 2019 at 4:00 p.m.
American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor
Sarah Coit, mezzo-soprano • Hadleigh Adams, baritone

Tuesday December 31 2019 4:00 p.m. • Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

TICKETS: or or call 415-392-4400
Renowned for his experience, knowledge, and sensitivity for the music of the Baroque, Jeffrey Thomas’s preparation of the major works of the repertory such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor,  Saint Matthew Passion , and Handel’s  Messiah  have led to inspired, definitive performances that have become synonymous with the ensemble he has led with such distinction.  San Francisco Classical Voice  said, “Jeffrey Thomas is still pushing the musical Baroque envelope.” [ MORE ]
American Bach Soloists are leading performers in the field of Baroque music, dedicated to historically informed performances of Bach and his contemporaries. ABS provides meaningful, memorable, and valuable musical experiences for our audiences through inspiring performances and recordings, and it supports the preservation of early music through educational programs for students and emerging professionals. [ MORE ]
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