Messiah must be among the most popular works of classical music ever written with hundreds of performances worldwide each year, yet Handel’s numerous other large-scale sacred works have failed to similarly catch the public’s ear. These oratorios are still rare enough in New York City that we must be doubly grateful that The English Concert’s recent Theodora was so quickly followed by the American Classical Orchestra’s fine Samson on Tuesday evening at Alice Tully Hall. Read more »
Many contemporary opera-lovers must rue that they can never hear such 19th century icons as Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient or Adolphe Nourrit or the Garcia sisters, Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot. But my impossible wish would be to hear one of the great castrati who dominated opera for most of the 18th century. I’m not the only one intrigued by these (mercifully) now-extinct musical anomalies—it’s a fascination that continues into the 21st century as heard on three variously compelling recent castrato-oriented CDs by countertenors David Hansen, Franco Fagioli and Philippe Jaroussky. In addition, the latter’s current US tour stopped by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Grace Rainey Rogers auditorium Tuesday evening. Read more »
Joined by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, The English Concert concluded the US leg of its current tour at Carnegie Hall Sunday with a complete performance of the darkly moving Theodora, Handel’s penultimate oratorio. The orchestra’s usual immaculate music-making and the 24-member chorus’s radiantly hall-filling singing struggled to mitigate the disappointing unevenness of several of the soloists. Read more »
While many performing arts organizations have been reducing their schedules or even closing, Opera Lafayette, a Washington DC-based group dedicated primarily to 17th and 18th century opera, has proven remarkably prosperous.
The internecine machinations of those who ruled—or sought to rule—the Roman Empire have long provided rich material for writers and composers, and on Thursday evening operamission continued its ambitious plan to stage in chronological order all of Handel’s operas by presenting one of the most delicious of those Roman-based works, Agrippina which premiered in Venice in 1709.
I suspect most New York City opera-lovers had long since given up hope that the fascinating soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci would ever return to their city.
I can think of no other case that resembles Handel’s complex relationship to the story—derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses—of the ill-fated love between the shepherd Acis and the sea nymph Galatea.
While James Levine’s name might not immediately spring to mind when pondering the great Mozart conductors, he does have a long and distinguished career leading operas by the Austrian master.
Seventeenth century opera remains the true connoisseur’s delight partly because it’s so rarely done.