Too Hot to Handel

It was a good week for Händel fans in New York, with the 1720 Radamisto at Juilliard and the Mark Morris Dance Group‘s setting of his 1740 oratorio L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato at the White Light Festival.

Radamisto at Juilliard

Radamisto at Juilliard, photo by Ruby Washington

I was lucky enough to see both, starting with Radamisto on Wednesday.  The New York Times review doesn’t do it justice in my opinion, I guess I have a high tolerance for nonstop da capo arias…  And the performers were all great, very impressive.  Since then I’ve been reliving it with this full performance from Salzburg in 2002.


L’Allegro’s premiere at La Monnaie in 1988

As for L’Allegro, etc., I learned last night that it was created when Mark Morris was choreographer in residence at La Monnaie, the opera house in Brussels.  And since they have such a great digital archive, I was able to find photographs and costume designs from the premiere performance; even as still images, they bring back the joy of the performance, so lovely.

Here’s a featurette on  L’Allegro, etc. (is there some acronym for this?  LAIPEIM?) from MMDG themselves.


Easter(n) Cantata

Lou Harrison portrait

Lou Harrison, photo by Oscar White, 1973

Mixing things up for Easter with a 20th century composition for the occasion.


Lou Harrison‘s Easter Cantata opens with the Gamelan style chords he is most known for.  He certainly seems like an eccentric character (I mean, just look at that portrait!), and he has an interesting biography, with impressive connections to Schoenberg and Ives.  If you want to hear more, his one-act opera Rapunzel is up on Spotify:

Happy Epiphany

January 6th marks Epiphany, which as I understood it was the day the Three Wise Men made it to Bethlehem…  and of course a second opportunity for presents…  To mark the occasion, here is part 6 from Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Christmas Oratorio, “for the feasts of Epiphany”:

This oratorio was actually made up of earlier music by Bach, drawn from 4 previous cantatas, one of which is otherwise lost, but this pastiche was written for the 1734 Christmas season.

Getcha Jephtha Here!


Jephtha on BBC Radio 3

From the wonderful people at BBC Radio 3, we now have a week to enjoy Händel’s 1752 oratorio Jephtha, performed at Welsh National Opera.  Apparently, Händel was losing his eyesight as he wrote it, so Jephtha would be his final oratorio.

WNO Guides: Jephtha from TallWall Media on Vimeo

It’s one of those frustrating child sacrifice stories from the Bible, where Jephtha, a general, vows to sacrifice the first person he sees on his return home to thank the big G for his military success AND WHADDYAKNOW it’s his daughter.  I mean, what do you expect with a vow like that?

(Also, you know you’re in Wales when your soprano’s name is Fflur Wyn.  Love it.)

20 Hours Left for David et Jonathas!


Image copyright Pascal Victor

Yikes!  I just realized that BBC Radio’s Opera on 3 series of streaming opera performances was featuring this summer’s Aix-en-Provence Festival performance of Marc-Antoine Charpentier‘s 1688 oratorio David et Jonathas this week!  And now there’s only 20 hours left to hear it!!!  Guess what I’ll be doing tonight…

David et Jonathas on BBC Radio 3

And be sure to check out the rest of their Fall 2012 Schedule, interesting stuff!

O Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me…

Starting the day off right, with a lovely aria from George “Too Hot To” Händel’s oratorio Semele, from the 1956 premiere recording, no less:

(You’ll be hearing lots of Baroque opera here, it’s one of my favorites…)

I had never heard of Jennyfer Vyvyan before, but she’s sounding like a very interesting lady…  She may even merit a dedicated blog post later on…