Bryn Terfel was once rumored to take part in a staging of Saul, one of the very greatest 18th century music dramas, with Les Arts Florissants, but it never happened: This Edinburgh Festival concert may then have been his only Saul, and LAF has sadly yet to perform the work. I heard David Daniels as a nearly ideal David in an uninspired Philharmonia Baroque concert co-starring Dominique Labelle and Jennifer Smith at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1998, a year before today’s broadcast.

Christof Loy’s Saul production at the Bavarian State Opera emphasized a homoerotic attraction between David and Jonathan. Despite gay performers in the two roles, it didn’t quite come off when I saw it; Brian Asawa’s sour, recessive David lacked charisma, leaving John Mark Ainsley’s superb Jonathan without an equal partner. Lately Saul has been taken up successfully by other regie directors: Barrie Kosky at the Glyndebourne Festival and Claus Guth at the Theater an der Wien.

The first time I heard Ann Hallenberg was 21 years ago at the Berlin Konzerthaus as Dejanira in Hercules conducted by Marcus Creed. Her Iole was Karina Gauvin whom I traveled to Montréal to hear in Theodora conducted by Bernard Labadie with Marie-Nicole Lemieux as Irene. René Jacobs conducted Jephtha with nearly the same forces as today’s offering at Alice Tully Hall five months before the broadcast posted today; the only difference was that New York got the great Richard Croft in the title role.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to hear live my longtime favorite Belshazzar which features particularly splendid choruses. The current Theater an der Wien’s staging of Belshazzar with Jeanine De Bique as Nitocris ends its run tonight. By the way, the Trinidadian soprano visits New York at the end of this month with Concerto Köln (the superb orchestra for the CC Belshazzar) for her familiar “Mirrors” program which includes a number of Handel opera seria selections.

The title role of Solomon was created in 1749 Italian mezzo soprano Caterina Galli. For the English Concert tour, he is being sung by Hallenberg who is taking on the role for the first time. I’ve heard that Bicket favorite Iestyn Davies was his original choice, but Davies decided to take on both Solomon and Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno in Berlin instead (the former was broadcast live on Sunday from the Philharmonie conducted by relative baroque newcomer Robin Ticciati).

Over the years I’ve preferred a mezzo as Solomon based on fine recordings by Carolyn Watkinson and Sarah Connolly, as well as a brand-new one with a miscast Christopher Lowrey in the title role. I’m particularly looking forward Hallenberg as my previous Solomons—David Hansen with Jacobs in New York and Michael Chance conducted by Ivor Bolton at the Salzburg Pfingstfestspiele—have been ineffective countertenors.

Catch Solomon in Berkeley, Los Angeles or New York.

Handel: Saul

Michal: Lisa Milne
Merab: Joan Rodgers
David: David Daniels
Jonathan: Ian Bostridge
Saul: Bryn Terfel
High Priest: Toby Spence
Ghost of Samuel: Neal Davies
Witch of Endor: Neil Jenkins

Edinburgh Festival Chorus
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Charles Mackerras

Usher Hall, Edinburgh
15 August 1999

Handel: Solomon

First Harlot/Queen of Saba: Karina Gauvin
Solomon’s Queen: Shannon Mercer
Solomon: Marie-Nicole Lemieux
Second Harlot: Krisztina Szabó
Zadok: James Gilchrist
Levite: Philippe Sly

La Chapelle de Québec
Les Violons du Roy
Conductor: Bernard Labadie

Palais Montcalm, Québec City
21 March 2014

Handel: Jephtha

Iphis: Rosemary Joshua
Storgé: Patricia Bardon
Hamor: William Purefoy
Jephtha: Kobie van Rensburg
Zebul: D’Arcy Bleiker

The Clare College Choir, Cambridge
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Conductor: René Jacobs

Congress Saal Tirol, Innsbruck
20 August 2002

Handel: Hercules

Iole: Ingela Bohlin
Dejanira: Ann Hallenberg
Lichas: Charlotte Hellekant
Hyllus: Ed Lyon
Hercules: Nathan Berg
Priest of Jupiter: Simon Kirkbride

Chorus of the Netherlands Opera
St. James’s Baroque
Conductor: Christopher Moulds

De Nederlandse Opera, Muziektheater Amsterdam
10 May 2007

Handel: Belshazzar

Nitocris: Rosemary Joshua
Cyrus: Ann Hallenberg
Daniel: Michael Chance
Belshazzar: Mark Padmore
Gobrias: Andrew Foster-Williams

NDR Chor
Concerto Köln
Conductor: Marcus Creed

Hauptkirche St. Michelis, Hamburg
21 January 2005

A while back Trove Thursday presented an episode of “old-fashioned” Handel oratorios including Hercules with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Richard Verreau and Walter Berry and Joshua featuring Sena Jurinac, Oralia Dominguez, Richard Lewis and Sesto Bruscantini.

Each oratorio can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

Chris’s Cache returns in several weeks to dig deep into an opera by Richard Strauss.