sat 13/08/2022

Handel

Alcina, Glyndebourne review - Handel on the strand

Reviewing the Grange Festival production of Tamerlano the other day, I noted the difficulty Handel poses the modern director with his byzantine plots and often ludicrous love tangles, expressed through music of surpassing brilliance but mostly...

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Tamerlano, The Grange Festival review - Handel brilliant in parts, but you have to wait for the drama

Handel’s operas have long posed, and still pose, severe problems for the modern theatre, and especially the modern director – all those endless streams of wonderful but emotionally more or less generalised arias hitched to interchangeable...

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Serse, The English Concert, St Martin-in-the-Fields review - star turns from five remarkable women

You know great singing when you hear it. In Handel, for me, that was when Lucy Crowe took over a Göttingen gala back in 2013; in Mozart, most recently, it came from Emily D’Angelo making her Royal Opera debut in La clemenza di Tito. Last night, in...

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Alcina, Opera North review - flat update redeemed by excellent vocal performances

This new production of Handel’s Alcina opens well, with no preamble, the protagonists’ arrival on the island inhabited by the titular sorceress suggested by footage of rushing water projected onto the backdrop. This is billed as Opera North’s first...

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Theodora, Royal Opera review - God, love, sex, death - and terrorism

Some of Handel's late London oratorios, like the indestructible Semele, work well as fully staged operas. Others, usually the ones which swap mythology for the sacred, need dramatic help. Theodora is one of them, though Peter Sellars' now-legendary...

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Classical CDs: Two clarinets and stereo snare drums

 Handel: Six Concerti Grossi Van Diemen’s Band/Martin Gester (BIS)I wanted to hear this disc purely on the basis of the group’s name. My instincts didn’t let me down. Martin Gester and Van Diemen’s Band, (based, naturally, in Tasmania) give...

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Messiah, Dunedin Consort, Butt, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh - period clarity infused with love

This time last year, the moment I knew things were really bad was when the Dunedin Consort cancelled Messiah. All performances since the summer of 2020 had been online films, but Dunedin cancelled even their online Messiah because it would involve...

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Iestyn Davies, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place review - Elizabethans and extraterrestrials

Music in London has faced down plagues, puritans, philistines and planners over the four centuries spanned by the Aurora Orchestra’s season-opener at Kings Place on Saturday. This concert in the venue’s “London Unwrapped” strand filled its main hall...

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Hallenberg, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner, BBC Proms review - a vindication of voices

Choral singers have suffered more than most from erratic and irrational Covid prohibitions while riskier mass pursuits have gone ahead. So when one of the world’s great choirs returned to the Proms with the conductor who has guided them for over...

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Amadigi, Garsington Opera review – geometries of enchantment

In Handel’s operas (as, indeed, elsewhere in art and life) the worst witch may turn out to have the best character. Without the sorceress Melissa, splendidly full of evil ruses yet endowed with a generous measure of tragic pathos, Amadigi di Gaula...

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Messiah highlights, English National Opera, BBC Two review – short-cut sorrow and redemption

Well, it wasn’t quite Messiah, but it was a source of joy. In ENO’s end-of-lockdown staging, BBC Two’s transmission of Handel’s resurrection song delivered a scant 54 minutes of music from the Coliseum on Easter Saturday. In contrast, two ancient...

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Iestyn Davies, Arcangelo, Wigmore Hall review - heavenly Handel as the lights dim again

Just before the doors closed again on live audiences at the Wigmore Hall, Iestyn Davies and members of the Arcangelo ensemble celebrated the private side of a very public composer. The peerless counter-tenor, whose powerfully polished command of...

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