Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 21, 2022

PREVIEW: Aston Magna Music Festival

Mahaiwe, Great Barrington, MA        
by Michael J. Moran 

The mission of Aston Magna, founded in 1972, is to enrich the appreciation of music of the past and the understanding of the cultural, political, and social contexts in which it was composed and experienced. Aston Magna seeks to inter­pret the music of the past as the composer imagined it. 

On Saturday, June 25, at 7:00 pm, they will present a program entitled “The Devil Is in the Tales,” at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA. The program will consist of two pieces: Alessandro Scarlatti’s 1706 oratorio “Humanita e Lucifero” for two voices and ensemble; and Igor Stravinsky’s 1918 theater piece “A Soldier’s Tale” for three actors and seven instruments.   

Tenor Frank Kelly
Both works feature the struggle between personifications of good and evil. Scarlatti pits the Virgin Mary against Lucifer, and Stravinsky dramatizes Satan’s Faustian bargaining for the soul of an innocent soldier. Both composers and their librettists were looking over their shoulders towards the medieval morality play, in which the existential contests between the forces of light and dark play out in stark, primary colors. 

Featured vocalists include soprano Kristen Watson, tenor Frank Kelly, and baritone David McFerrin as the Devil. A pre-concert talk will be held at 6:15 pm, with Aston Magna Artistic Director Daniel Stepner. 

Tickets may be purchased by phone at (413) 528-0100 or online at the Mahaiwe website.