The American lutenist and conductor, Stephen Stubbs, has been engaged in music-making since early childhood. Parallel interests in "early music" and the 20th century avant-garde music led him to study composition and harpsichord at the University of Washington. At the same time, he learned to play keyboard and plucked instruments, specializing in the principal Baroque accompanying instruments, harpsichord and lute. After graduation he completed his study of the lute in Holland and England, where he made his professional debut as lutenist at Wigmore Hall, London in 1976.
By this point, Stephen Stubbs' career in early music - both as an active scholar and a performing musician - was in the ascendant. His research and performing life on the lute, citarrone, and Baroque guitar helped re-establish these plucked continuo instruments within the soundscape of Baroque music. In 1980 he went to Germany, where he played with the Musicalische Compagney, Berlin and Fuiori Musicali, Bremen. Since 1981 he is teaching at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen were he helds now the post as Professor for lute and performance practices. He continued to live in North Germany until 2006, and from there has made extensive tours through Europe and USA.
1987 was a watershed year in Stephen Stubbs' life and in the history of the early music revival. For that year's Bruges Early Music Festival, Stubbs directed a production of Stefano Landi's opera La Morte d'Orfeo. The success of this production launched Stubbs as one of the most called-upon directors of early opera performances, and spun off the highly successful ensemble Tragicomedia. The group at its core consists of Stubbs and two others of the best early continuo players in the world: harpist Andrew Lawrence-King and lirone virtuoso Erin Headley. Together as Tragicomedia, the three have formed the core of major productions of all three surviving operas of Claudio Monteverdi, Francesca Caccini's Ruggiero, Sartorio's L'Orfeo, Stefano Landi's Orfeo, and the opera Orfeo by Luigi Rossi. Their performances have included every major European and American early music festival and have used collaborations with such performers as Paul Hillier and Theatre of Voices, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Philippe Herreweghe and La Chapelle Royale, and a new partnership with lutenist Paul O'Dette. The group has toured three continents (Europe, North America and Japan), released over 20 CD's, and received an Edison Award in 1994 for a Monteverdi madrigal program.
In 1996, Stephen Stubbs founded yet another ensemble, the late-Baroque orchestra Teatro Lirico. Their first CD Love and Death in Venice, was released in 1996. Further recordings of the ensemble include Italian 'Cello Concerti with soloist Lucie Swarts and a live recording of Antonio Sartorio's Orfeo of 1672 for Vanguard Classics was awarded the Cini Prize for best opera recording of 1999. Stubbs has been invited to direct opera productions in most European countries, the USA, Canada and Scandinavia, including Monteverdiís Orfeo at the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam 1997-1998 to be revived in 2007. Most recently he directed Monteverdiís Poppea in Vancouver, Gluck's Orfeo in Bilbao, and George Frideric Handelís Giulio Cesare in Murcia.
Since 1997 Stephen Stubbs has co-directed the bi-annual Boston Early Music Festival opera. In 2003 he was named permanent artistic co-director of this Festival. He and artistic co-director Paul O'Dette have produced and directed a series of Baroque operas at the Festival beginning in 1997 with Luigi Rossiís Orfeo up to the production of the newly rediscovered Boris Goudenow by Johann Mattheson in 2005. The first recording of such a production was also released in 2005. This world premiere recording of Johann Georg Conradiís Ariadne on BEMF has been greeted with worldwide enthusiasm in the musical press, and was nominated for a Grammy this year.
To cultivate the singers and players of the next generation he founded an early opera course at the Hochschule in Bremen. In 2005 the eighth annual meeting of this intensive week-long workshop called the ďAccademia d'AmoreĒ was presented for the first time in Seattle. In 2006 he moved to Seattle where he has established a new graduate school for young singers and players of Baroque music called the Seattle Academy of Baroque Opera.
Stephen Stubbsí solo lute recordings include the music of J.S. Bach, Silvius Leopold Weiss, David Kellner, the Belgian lutenist Jaques St. Luc, Gaultier, Gallot and Logi. A recording of Bach's Luteworks was released in 2003 on the ATMA label where he also appears as the conductor of the Monteverdi Vespers with Tragicomedia and Handel Love Duets with Ensemble Arion. With Baroque harpist Maxine Eilander he also recorded Sonate al Pizzico for ATMA in 2004. In 2006, new Teatro Lirico recordings appeared on the ECM label including Folia, featuring improvisations on Baroque chord patterns and new compositions by Stubbs for the Baroque guitar. Since the inception of the Dowland Project on ECM he has played on all the groupís recordings. He has recorded numerous LP's and CD's with famous other énsembles like Hilliard Ensemble or with Andrew Lawrence-King.