Tuesday 22 February 2022

Handel Festival Halle celebrates its centenary

Handel Festival Halle 2022

This year the Handel Festival Halle is celebrating its centenary. That first festival in Handel's birthplace in 1922 is one of the defining moments of the modern revival of interest in Handel's wider music. The Hallisches Händelfest in 1922 concluded with a performance of Handel's Orlando, and the 2022 centenary festival, which runs from 27 May to 12 June 2022 will being with a new production of Orlando conducted by Christian Curnyn and directed by Walter Sutcliffe, the new artistic director of Halle Opera. The 1922 festival also included Susanna and Semele, both of which are being performed in 2022 along with a wide range of other works. 

After that first festival, the Halle Handel Society was formed in 1925 and a second festival took place in 1929 with a third in 1935. The fourth festival took place in 1949, and since 1952 the festival has become annual.

Other operas to be presented this year include Ariodante which will be a collaboration between the Carlo Colla e Figli marionette theatre and the Lautten Compagney Berlin. Leo Duarte and Opera Settecento will be performing Fernando, Re di Castiglia, a fragment of an opera that Handel would rework into Sosarme, with a cast including Susanna Fairbairn, Nick Scott, Chiara Hendrick and Jess Dandy. Kobie van Rensburg directs a multi-media production of Siroe, Re di Persia with Erich Traxler conducting L'Orfeo Barockorchester and a cast including Matthias Helm, Clint van der Linde, Nicholas Hariades, Annastina Malm, Amelie Müller and Philipp Kranje, a co-production with the Donaufestwochen im Strudengau festival. Handel's pasticcio, Carlo Fabrice (based on an opera by Hasse) receives its first performance in modern times with Nicholas Kierdorf conducting Concert Royal Köln Baroque orchestra with cast including Lukasz Koniezcny, Julie Vercauteren, Fanny Lustaud, and Anne-Aurore Cochet.

Handel's Brockes Passion is being presented in a staging directed by Walter Sutcliffe and conducted by Michael Hofstetter, with a cast including Romelia Lichtenstein (winner of the 2016 Handel Prize), Robert Sellier and Michael Zehe. The production was planned for 2021 but cancelled, and originally presented in October 2021.

The Portuguese orchestra Divino Sospiro makes its festival debut with Mozart's version of Messiah. MDR Radio Choir and Leipzig Baroque Opera present Susanna with a cast including Marie Lys, Ciara Henrick, Benjamin Hulett, and Benjamin Bevan, conducted by Philipp Ahmann. Howard Arman conducts the Staatskapelle Halle in Semele, in a version which re-constructs the performing edition used (cut and sung in German) for the opening concert of the 1922 festival.

There are 67 events in total including concerts from Jordi Savall, Philippe Jaroussky, Ragna Schirmer or Romelia Lichtenstein, as well as countertenor Axel Köhler, who continued as Festival director after his retirement from the stage.

Full details from the festival website.

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