George Frideric Handel
Yet another love story. The dream of mortal Semele who is loved by a god is one of the most inspired works to flow from the pen of Handel.
Brenda Rae Semele
Elizabeth DeShong Ino / Juno
Benjamin Hulett Jupiter
Soloman Howard Cadmus / Somnus
Christopher Lowry Athamas
Ailish Tynan Iris
Harry Bicket direction
The English Concert
The Clarion Choir direction Steven Fox
Sung in English with French and English subtitles
Although Serse, which is also on the bill this season (24 October 2018), marks the twilight of Handel’s operatic output, Semele is the fullest expression of the musician’s grasp of the oratorio form which dominates his final compositions. In the early 1740s, the fashion for Italian opera had waned for good in London when Handel embarked on his last works. He composed Saul, L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato, the Messiah and Samson. Semele was his final oratorio in 1744 and was performed as such without any production or sets using the massed choirs which were typical of the genre. However, a leopard does not change its spots and everything about the work conjures up opera - from the tragi-comic libretto and cleverly executed succession of scenes to the virtuoso arias for soloists. This is an opera in all but name, but bears the finest hallmarks of a lifetime of composition.
Production Théâtre des Champs-Elysées