Wednesday 21 November 2012

London Handel Festival

The first outlines of next year's London Handel Festival have come in, with some rather tempting offerings, including Handel's penultimate Italian opera, three of his oratorios with Italian names and opera by his contemporaries Telemann and Hasse. Both Handel's early Italian oratorios are being performed. Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno at St George's Hanover Square on 21 March, with is pair Il Resurrezione at the Wigmore Hall on 1 April. The festival concludes with a performance on 16 April at St George's of one of Handel's most quintessentially English oratorios, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with its text based on Milton's poems. And this year's opera will be Imeneo.

Handel's penultimate one, Imeneo, will be staged at the Royal College of Music's Britten Theatre on 11, 12, 13 and 14 March, directed by Paul Curran. Imeneo is a fascinating work as the title role is a baritone role and, though  he does not get that many arias, he does get the girl in the end. Handel sets up the castrato role as the hero, but does not give him the girl, quite curious. The title role was sung by William Savage, who as a treble had sung the role of Oberto in Alcina. Judging from the original manuscript, Savage's voice was still settling into the baritone range whilst Handel was writing the opera.

There are also concert performances of operas by Handel's contemporaries. Telemann's Orpheus is performed by Classical Opera on 18 March. The opera was written in 1726 and being as it was for the Hamburg opera house, is in a mixture of languages as they tended to do dialogue in German with some arias in Italian. Hasse's Lucio Papirio Dittatore on 6 April at the Grosvenor Chapel. This latter was written for Dresden in 1742. Its libretto is NOT by Metastasio, but by Apostolo Zeno. Though from this point in his career, Hasse would set mainly libretti by Metastasio.

Southbank Sinfonia Baroque make their visit to the festival on 12 April.

Support for young singers is a great feature of the festival, both via the Handel Singing Competition, and by giving roles and recitals to singers. Alexander Sprague (came second in the 2012 singing competition) and Anna Starushkevych (winner of the 2012 singing competition) are both doing lunchtime recitals and appearing in evening concerts. Both are in Il Resurrezione with Julia Doyle, and Sprague is also in L'Allegro along with Rosemary Joshua. Other lunchtime recitalists include Raphaela Papadakis (winner with Starushkevych of the York Early Music Prize in the 2012 competition), Lucy Hall and Anna Gorbachyova (both 2012 competition semi-finalists). The final of the 2013 Singing Festival is on 11 April.

Elsewhere on this blog:

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