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Smorgasbord of song

College presents weekend of early music gems

Few university music programs could pull off what the early music division of the University of North Texas College of Music plans to do this weekend.

The UNT Collegium Singers, the Baroque Orchestra and UNT Opera Theatre are working on projects that show the depth and breadth of the early music program, not to mention the focus and dedication of the students involved.

The Collegium Singers and Baroque Orchestra present a program today. The concert is built around George Frideric Handel’s Dixit Dominus.

The 30-minute-long psalm setting is a virtuosic piece for soloists, chorus and orchestra, said Richard Sparks, who will conduct. Handel wrote Dominus in 1707 at age 22, after he had bested Alessandro Scarlatti in a keyboard competition and started his rise to fame.

The choir and the orchestra will also perform a concerto grosso by Giuseppe Valentini, written around the same time as the Handel piece. It will feature four solo violins playing with the Baroque Orchestra. It’s a piece that might have influenced Handel and a good complement to Dixit Dominus, Sparks said.

While some members of the Baroque Orchestra prepare for that concert, others are preparing for the UNT Opera production of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Le devin du village. The fact that Baroque Orchestra has enough members to support two early music events in the same weekend is unique, Sparks said.

“There aren’t many other universities that could offer this opportunity,” Sparks said.

Directed by Paula Homer, Le devin du village (The Cunning Man) is the tale of two lovers, each of whom suspects the other of cheating. They each visit the village soothsayer, who tricks them into loving and trusting each other again, and they marry. The opera was so popular in its day that it was performed at the wedding of the future Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

It will be performed in French with English supertitles. Brad Bennight and Veronika Vassileva will conduct the Baroque Orchestra in the place of Paul Leenhouts, who directs the early music program.

— Lucinda Breeding


What: Concert featuring Handel’s “Dixit Dominus”

When: 8 p.m. today

Where: Winspear Performance Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center, on the north side of I-35E at North Texas Boulevard

Details: Tickets cost $10 for adults; and $8 for seniors, non-UNT students, children, UNT faculty, staff and retirees, and groups of 10 or more. Admission is free for UNT students with valid ID (must be picked up at the box office). To buy tickets, visit  or call 940-369-7802.

On the Web: The concert will be streamed online at .


What: UNT Opera and the Baroque Orchestra present a comic opera by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

When: 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday. An “In the Know” lecture will precede the performances at 7:15 p.m. Friday and 2:15 p.m. Sunday

Where: Lyric Theatre at the Murchison Performing Arts Center, on the north side of I-35E at North Texas Boulevard

Details: Tickets cost $15 for adults. Seating is general admission. To buy tickets, visit  or call 940-369-7802.