HorneThe English Concert arrives at Carnegie Hall on 13 March with Orlando, and as a preview “Trove Thursday” presents the last time that auditorium hosted this astonishing masterpiece by Handel: a 1984 performance with Marilyn Horne, Valerie Masterson, Marvis Martin, Jeffery Gall and Robert Lloyd, conducted by Charles Mackerras

This series of live recordings has been running since September but this week for the first time it features something I actually attended. Handel’s birthday was two days ago—23 February—and the composer turned 300 in 1985 so many special commemorations were scheduled that season. Of special interest to me was a four-opera concert series at Carnegie including this Orlando, Tatiana Troyanos and June Anderson in Ariodante, and the famous Semele with Kathleen Battle, Horne, Gall, Rockwell Blake and Samuel Ramey on the actual tricentenary.

Although I wasn’t yet living in New York, I of course dutifully subscribed to the series and flew here for every concert, and Orlando occurred on the Sunday night after Thanksgiving. I arrived on Saturday morning and raced to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Much Ado about Nothing with a superb Sinead Cusack and Derek Jacobi and then spent Sunday’s matinee with a far less savory couple—the amazing Ruth Maleczech and Frederick Neumann in Mabou Mines’s production of Franz Xaver Kroetz’s devastating Through the Leaves at the Public Theater.

Saturday evening at the Met was my first-ever Clemenza di Tito, one where the “issues” of that new production’s opening night (I’ve heard the tape) had been solved. Troyanos was back as Sesto and the problematic Renata Scotto and Kenneth Riegel had been replaced by the infinitely better-cast Carol Vaness and John Alexander, and Hei-Kyung Hong was Servilia, just her third Met performance.

The next night Carnegie was jam-packed and full of anticipation for an absolutely uncut performance that would include Horne’s first-ever Orlando as well as a rare U.S. appearance by Masterson. The originally scheduled Medoro, Carolyn Watkinson, had been replaced by Gall and Martin, today a member of the chorus at the Met, had only done small parts there at that point. Lloyd’s Met debut wouldn’t arrive until four years later.

An amazing NYC weekend!

Handel: Orlando
Carnegie Hall
November 25, 1984
In-house recording

Angelica: Valerie Masterson
Dorinda: Marvis Martin
Orlando: Marilyn Horne
Medoro: Jeffrey Gall
Zoroastro: Robert Lloyd

Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Conductor: Charles Mackerras

In a little over two weeks, Orlando will return to Carnegie as the final stop of a five-city tour which began last night at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien. Conducted by Harry Bicket, the Anglo-American quintet will be headed by Iestyn Davies in the title role, Erin Morley as his reluctant love-object Angelica and Carolyn Sampson as the lovelorn shepherdess Dorinda. Sasha Cooke and Kyle Ketelsen complete the cast.

“Trove Thursday” offerings can be downloaded via the audio-player on their page. Just click on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Orlando, last week’s blazing Hérodiade and all previous “Trove Thursday” fare remain available from iTunes or via any RSS reader.