Franco Fagioli: Arias for Caffarelli

Franco Fagioli

(Konzerthalle Ulrichskirche, Halle, with Il Pomo d’Oro, 7 June 2015)

So, we’d started off the weekend with (arguably) the most famous countertenor in the world and we closed it in dazzling fashion with the most formidably talented: the crown prince of coloratura. In the high-vaulted surroundings of the Ulrichskirche, Halle’s church-turned-concert hall, Franco Fagioli was on fine form as he returned to the programme of his 2013 Caffarelli album. It proved to be a delightful complement to the Porpora recital we saw at the Wigmore back in September and, with orchestral support from the ever-vivacious Il Pomo d’Oro, directed by Riccardo Minasi, it made for a deliciously exuberant evening.

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Alessandro: George Frideric Handel (1726)

Handel: Alessandro

★★★★

(Goethe-Theater Bad Lauchstädt, with Armonia Atenea and George Petrou, 6 June 2015)

On Saturday afternoon, with the mercury rising above 30°C, we headed off to the Goethe-Theater at Bad Lauchstädt for our second staged opera of the week. This time it was the Parnassus production of Handel’s Alessandro, which is already something of a modern classic. Like Lucio Cornelio Silla, this staging sets the story in the 1930s, but its playful and vivid spirit couldn’t be more different from Handel’s tale of tyranny. Unfolding beneath a proscenium arch of Art Deco splendour, Alessandro presents us with the bristling egos and squabbling actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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Lucio Cornelio Silla: George Frideric Handel (1713)

Handel: Lucio Cornelio Silla

★★★½

(Oper Halle, with Händelfestspielorchester Halle and Enrico Onofri, 5 June 2015)

Tickets had all sold out and we’d accepted that we weren’t going to get to see this staged revival of Handel’s rarely-performed 1713 opera (there’s only one extant recording, from 2000, with James Bowman as Silla). And then, during the interval of Jaroussky’s concert, I got chatting to some fellow English travellers, who just happened to have two tickets going spare for the following night and very generously offered them at a discount. And so, slightly dazzled, we found ourselves at the premiere in absolutely splendid seats in the centre of the stalls.

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Philippe Jaroussky: Festival Concert

Philippe Jaroussky

(Georg-Friedrich-Händel Halle, with Orfeo 55 and Nathalie Stutzmann, 4 June 2015)

In early June, all Baroque roads lead to Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, which holds an annual Handel festival in honour of its most famous son. As a Londoner by adoption, I confess to a slight sense of possessiveness over Handel, who moved away from Halle at the age of eighteen (as opposed to the 47 years he spent living and working in London), but I suppose we can share him. And it is true that Halle’s festival feels considerably sleeker and higher-profile than London’s equivalent earlier this year: there are posters and banners everywhere; every performance was packed with people; and the programme featured a positive galaxy of international Baroque talent.

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