The English Concert’s annual Handel tour brings Solomon conducted by Harry Bicket to the US beginning Sunday March 5. In anticipation, Chris’s Cache offers Solomon plus four other oratorios by the master: Belshazzar, Hercules, Saul and Jephtha, all via broadcasts for which I feel a personal connection.
While it must be admitted that Elza van den Heever doesn’t have an ideally warm and agile Handel voice, she evidenced fierce control over her instrument and skillfully built a powerful portrait of the courageous Rodelida fighting for her survival.
His shaved head in striking contrast to his dark beard and glinting eyes, the implacable Tartar conqueror glowers at us from the CD cover, while the uncropped photo of countertenor Xavier Sabata (above) is even more disturbing, featuring his raised fist and forearm tightly wrapped in a leather belt.
Sneaking in under the wire during the final week of May were two highpoints of New York’s opera season: the Cleveland Orchestra’s Salome with a stunning Nina Stemme and operamission’s revelatory US stage premiere of a complete edition of Handel’s first opera Almira.