Tag Archives: Handel

Agrippina, The Grange Festival, June 2018

Agrippina, wife of the emperor Claudius (Claudio), is bent on securing the throne for Nero (Nerone), her son by a previous marriage. A scheming woman who manipulates her spiritually weak husband and everyone around her, she finds herself out-manoeuvred by the pretty Poppea, desired by Claudio and Nerone, to say nothing of her beloved Ottone …

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Rodelinda, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2017

The libretto for Handel’s Rodelinda, regina de’ Longobardi (queen of the longbeards, or Lombards) was written by the remarkable Nicola Francesca Haym, musician, theatre manager, performer, and even numismatist who wrote the first work on the ancient coins in the British Museum. Its huge clarity, particularly in Amanda Holden’s excellent translation, brings to life a …

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Partenope, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2017

When this Handel opera first opened in London in 1730 it came as something of a surprise from a composer known for his serious opera (opera seria). Despite a structure that follows that form however, its romantic complications and gender confusion make for a light-hearted comedy. Partenope, the founder of Naples in classical legend, appears …

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Orlando, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, September 2015

In Ariosto’s early sixteenth century epic poem Orlando Furioso (Frenzied Roland) that forms the basis for this opera, Orlando was one of the foremost warriors in Charlemagne’s court. Torn between his love for Angelica and his duty to go to war he has a nervous breakdown. In the meantime Angelica’s love has turned to the …

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Saul, Glyndebourne, GFO, July 2015

When Handel first produced this oratorio in 1738 the audience would have been completely au fait with the Biblical story of Saul, the king of a people previously presided over by judges and prophets such as Samuel, who anointed him as their first king. He also anointed David as his successor, but in the oratorio …

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Xerxes, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, September 2014

This sixth ENO revival of Handel’s late opera Xerxes (aka Serse) is a testament to the huge charms of Nicholas Hytner’s 1985 production, which presents the complex story of amorous intrigues in a Persian court with glorious clarity. Elegant, even stunning, costumes for the main characters contrast with drab for the courtiers and striking black …

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Rodelinda, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, March 2014

First performed in 1725 this Handel opera, set in seventh century Milan, boasted the famous castrato Senesino as Berterido, husband of Rodelinda. He has lost his throne, is now presumed dead, and his position has been usurped by Grimoaldo, who has fallen in love with Rodelinda, despite being betrothed to Berterido’s sister Eduige. Tastes have …

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Julius Caesar, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, October 2012

As a great fan of recent ENO productions I was hoping for better despite the many negative comments I had heard about this one. Julius Caesar, which deals with Caesar’s visit to Egypt in 47 BC when he was chasing Pompey and met the twenty-one-year old Cleopatra, is one of Handel’s great operas, full of rich …

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Rodelinda, Metropolitan Opera live relay, December 2011

The Met first produced this Handel opera in the same production in 2004 with Renée Fleming in the title role. In this live cinema screening she took on the role again and gave a wonderful performance, showing the anguish of the queen who has apparently lost her husband Bertarido in battle, and is now wooed …

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Xerxes, English Touring Opera, ETO, Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music, October 2011

Power and youthful passion are grist to the mill of Handel’s plots, and James Conway’s production is set on a World War II air base with Xerxes as the new ruler, whose enthusiasm for the Spitfire is matched by his infatuation for the lovely wartime nurse and singer Romilda. His brother, fighter pilot Arsamenes, is also …

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Rinaldo, Glyndebourne, July 2011

The Siege of Jerusalem in 1099 is represented here by public schoolboys versus St. Trinian’s. Hockey sticks against lacrosse sticks. Super fun, and a rather good background for all the youthful amour and magical manipulations that form the heart of this Handel opera. The main feature of the story is that Rinaldo is in love …

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Radamisto, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, October 2010

On 27th April 1720, a month before his sixtieth birthday, King George I attended the opera with his son the Prince of Wales. They’d only recently reunited after not speaking to another for three years, so this was just the right opera to see.

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Tamerlano, Royal Opera, February 2010

Unfortunately [Domingo] was unavailable, but his replacement, Kurt Streit sang [Bazajet] superbly — one could not have asked for better.

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Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, and Acis and Galatea by Handel, Royal Opera, April 2009

Acis and Galatea is a beautiful work, musically speaking … composed as a pastoral serenata, which means it would be sung without elaborate staging, though the performers would probably have worn costumes … This staging by Wayne McGregor was frightfully elaborate, which I think detracted from the beauty of the work

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Tamerlano, live cinema screening from Madrid, October 2008

Placido Domingo was wonderful as Bajazet, full of emotion and determination, and Monica Bacelli was superb as Tamerlano, looking and acting the part in the way Handel surely intended.

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