The mask of comedy has long been an effective ruse for disguising the darker aspects of humanity, a theme the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra will explore on March 8 in its "La Tragedie et la Comedie" Masterworks concert.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Raising Cane's River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts, 220 St. Louis St.

The centerpiece of the concert will be Beethoven's "Second Symphony," one of his most cheerful and optimistic works, yet it was written during one of the lowest points in his life as he was coming to terms with the onset of deafness.

"We hear Beethoven finding his own compositional style in this symphony as he begins to break away from imitating his idols of Mozart and Haydn," says Timothy Muffitt, conductor and music director. "Indeed, it is music that Haydn would have understood, but the powerful, richly dramatic music of Beethoven's 'Second' was unprecedented in symphonic music."

The bill also includes Mozart's "Don Giovanni," a combination of human tragedy and touching comedy. At the heart of Mozart's masterpiece is a disturbing ambiguity.  Giovanni's personality is beguiling enough that audiences root for him, even as his dark side becomes more and more obvious.

Rounding out the concert is Stavinsky's "Pulcinella Suite," a story derived from ancient comedy and based on scores written by composer Giovanni Pergolesi. Pulcinella is a stock character originating from commedia dell'arte, the name meaning "rooster."

"Pulcinella was my discovery of the past, the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible," Stravinsky wrote.

Tickets are $38-$72. Call (225) 383-0500, email or visit