Mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggot makes for a formidable Miss Donnithorne

Mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggot makes for a formidable Miss Donnithorne

Jacaranda revisits Victorian England with the real Miss Havisham

Reading the lengthy Victorian bildungsroman “Great Expectations” can hurt like the dickens, but the chamber music group Jacaranda aims to turn such sorrows into song at its first concert of 2016, “Expectancy.”
The musical group, known for performing new and rarely heard classical music, plays Peter Maxwell Davies’ “Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot,” based on the real-life woman who inspired Charles Dickens’ bitter bride Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations.” Acclaimed actress and mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggot will sing the part of Miss Donnithorne, whose abandonment at the altar on her wedding day in 1846 is said to have been the basis for the book’s morose spinster who traipses around her musty mansion in a yellowing wedding dress, leaves a decaying feast on her table, keeps the clocks set at twenty minutes to nine and trains her ward Estella to break men’s hearts.
Jacaranda brings more English sensibilities from across the pond with arrangements and music by UK masters Thomas Adès and his mentor, Irish composer Gerald Barry. The ensemble will play Adès’ arrangement of British ska bands, “Cardiac Arrest,” his clarinet-driven “Catch,” and controversial concert paraphrase “Powder her Face,” as well as Barry’s landmark sextet “Bob.”

— Christina Campodonico

Jacaranda performs “Expectancy” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, 1220 Second St., Santa Monica. $20 to $45.