Here for the first time on CD is Glyndebourne’s acclaimed 1996 production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora. Although Theodora is a story of a virtuous woman and sexual persecution, this has not proved to be an obstacle to its enduring success, the subject a deeply touching one, resonating from the age of antiquity to the present day.
The recording is the debut on the Glyndebourne label for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, one of Glyndebourne’s two resident orchestras.
This audio release, in no way detracting from the extraordinary Peter Sellar’s production, allows the focus to be on the soloists, conductor and orchestra. This recording confirms Lorraine Hunt as a true Handelian, capturing the spirit of Irene as few others could. In counter-tenor David Daniels as Didymus, there is a breadth of range drawing the listener away from the oft strained and forced falsetto sound.
From the outset Dawn Upshaw is a heartfelt Theodora culminating magnificently in her final duet with Daniels ‘Thither let our hearts aspire…’ the delivery, sensitivity and ensemble nothing short of numbing. There is no better choice of debut release from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on the Glyndebourne label, William Christie’s musical approach one of transcendence, making the most of this wonderful music.
Great opera performances are often fleeting moments in time but since 1960, every note of every Glyndebourne Festival performance has been recorded. ‘Eaves-dropping’ on these live performances allows some of the most seminal opera performances of the last fifty years to be enjoyed by all.
Handel: Theodora, HWV 68
Part 1 - 01 - Overture
Part 1 Scene 1 - 02 - Recitative: ??Tis Dioclesian?s natal day?
Part 1 Scene 1 - 03 - Air: ?Go, my faithful soldier, go?
Part 1 Scene 1 - 04 - Chorus: ?And draw a blessing down?
Part 1 Scene 1 - 05 - Recitative: ?Vouchsafe, dread Sir?
Part 1 Scene 1 - 06 - Air: ?Racks, gibbets, sword or fire?
Part 1 Scene 1 - 07 - Chorus: ?Forever thus stands fix?d?
Part 1 Scene 2 - 08 - Recitative: ?Most cruel edict?
Part 1 Scene 2 - 09 - Air: ?The raptur?d soul?
Part 1 Scene 2 - 10 - Recitative: ?I know thy virtues?
Part 1 Scene 2 - 11 - Air: ?Descend, kind pity?
Part 1 Scene 3 - 12 - Recitative: ?Tho? hard, my friends?
Part 1 Scene 3 - 13 - Air: ?Fond, flatt?ring world, adieu?
Part 1 Scene 3 - 14 - Recitative: ?O bright example?
Part 1 Scene 3 - 15 - Air: ?Bane of virtue?
Part 1 Scene 3 - 16 - Chorus: ?Come, mighty Father?
Part 1 Scene 4 - 17 - Recitative: ?Fly, fly, my brethren?
Part 1 Scene 4 - 18 - Air: ?As with rosy steps the morn?
Part 1 Scene 4 - 19 - Chorus: ?All pow?r in heav?n?
Part 1 Scene 5 - 20 - Recitative: ?Mistaken wretches?
Part 1 Scene 5 - 21 - Air: ?Dread the fruits of Christian folly?
Part 1 Scene 5 - 22 - Recitative: ?Deluded mortals?
Part 1 Scene 5 - 23 - Recitative: ?O worse than death indeed?
Part 1 Scene 5 - 24 - Air: ?Angels, ever bright and fair?
Part 1 Scene 6 - 01 - Recitative: ?Unhappy, happy crew?
Part 1 Scene 6 - 02 - Air: ?Kind Heav?n, if virtue be thy care?
Part 1 Scene 7 - 03 - Recitative: ?O love, how great thy pow?r?
Part 1 Scene 7 - 04 - Chorus: ?Go, gen?rous pious youth?
Part 2 Scene 1 - 05 - Recitative: ?Ye men of Antioch?
Part 2 Scene 1 - 06 - Chorus: ?Queen of Summer?
Part 2 Scene 1 - 07 - Air: ?Wide spread his name?
Part 2 Scene 1 - 08 - Recitative: ?Return, Septimius?
Part 2 Scene 1 - 09 - Chorus: ?Venus laughing from the skies
Part 2 Scene 1 - 10 - Symphony
Part 2 Scene 2 - 11 - Recitative: ?Oh thou bright Sun?
Part 2 Scene 2 - 12 - Air: ?With darkness deep?
Part 2 Scene 2 - 13 - Symphony
Part 2 Scene 2 - 14 - Recitative: ?But why art thou disquieted?
Part 2 Scene 2 - 15 - Air: ?Oh, that I on wings could rise?
Part 2 Scene 3 - 16 - Recitative: ?Long have I known?
Part 2 Scene 3 - 17 - Air: ?Tho? the honours that Flora?
Part 2 Scene 3 - 18 - Recitative: ?O, save her then?
Part 2 Scene 3 - 19 - Air: ?Deeds of kindness to display?
Part 2 Scene 4 - 20 - Recitative: ?The clouds begin to veil?
Part 2 Scene 4 - 21 - Air: ?Defend her Heav?n?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 22 - Recitative: ?Or lull?d with grief?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 23 - Air: ?Sweet rose and lily?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 24 - Recitative: ?O, save me, Heav?n?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 25 - Air: ?The pilgrim?s home?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 26 - Recitative: ?Forbid it, Heav?n!?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 27 - Recitative: ?Ah, what is liberty?
Part 2 Scene 5 - 28 - Duet: ?To thee, thou glorious son of worth?
Part 2 Scene 6 - 29 - Recitative: ? ?Tis night?
Part 2 Scene 6 - 30 - Chorus: ?He saw the lovely youth?
Part 3 Scene 1 - 01 - Air: ?Lord, to thee each night and day?
Part 3 Scene 2 - 02 - Recitative: ?But see, the good, the virtuous?
Part 3 Scene 2 - 03 - Air: ?When sunk in anguish and despair?
Part 3 Scene 2 - 04 - Recitative: ?Blessed be the pow?r?
Part 3 Scene 2 - 05 - Chorus: ?Blessing, honour, adoration?, ?Blest be the hand?
Part 3 Scene 3 - 06 - Recitative: ?Undaunted in the court?
Part 3 Scene 3 - 07 - Recitative: ?O my Irene, Heav?n is kind?
Part 3 Scene 3 - 08 - Duet: ?Whither, Princess, do you fly?
Part 3 Scene 3 - 09 - Recitative: ?She?s gone, disdaining liberty and life?
Part 3 Scene 3 - 10 - Air: ?New scenes of joy come crowding on?
Part 3 Scene 4 - 11 - Recitative: ?Is it a Christian virtue then?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 12 - Recitative: ?Be that my doom?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 13 - Air: ?From virtue springs each gen?rous deed?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 14 - Air: ?Cease ye slaves, your fruitless pray?r?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 15 - Recitative: ??Tis kind, my friends?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 16 - Air: ?Lost in anguish?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 17 - Chorus: ?How strange their ends?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 18 - Recitative: ?On me your frowns?
Part 3 Scene 5 - 19 - Air: ?Ye ministers of justice?
Part 3 Scene 6 - 20 - Recitative: ?And must such beauty suffer?
Part 3 Scene 6 - 21 - Air and Duet: ?Streams of pleasure ever flowing?, ?Thither let our hearts aspire?
Part 3 Scene 7 - 22 - Recitative: ?Ere this, their doom is past?
Part 3 Scene 7 - 23 - Chorus: ?O, love divine?
4th April 2012
“Those who saw Peter Sellars' production of Theodora with its original American cast or any of its revivals is unlikely to forget the experience...Anyone wanting a library version of the oratorio would be better considering one of the studio-made recordings, but as a memento of one of Glyndebourne's finest shows of recent times, it's matchless.”
“The special qualities remain intact without the visual dramatic elements...Avid Handelians must own this just for Lorraine Hunt's singing of 'As with rosy steps', which abounds in integrity and humanity...David Daniels has never made a better studio recording than his nobly courageous Didymus...The OAE's playing is routinely marvellous; Christie's pacing and characterisation of Handel's music are satisfyingly lyrical.”
“something very special is audible here: though slow to ignite in all but Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's transcendent Irene, there is a sense of collective devotion as electric as any Bach Passion...American accent to the fore, Upshaw tears up the Baroque style-manual. It's gushy, sometimes croony, a hair's breadth from broadway, but it is deeply felt and deeply moving.”
The Arts Desk
30th June 2012
“start listening and you’re hooked within minutes...The small cast are consistently impressive...Christie conducts with plenty of bounce and joie de vivre, though never unplaying the score’s occasional reflective moments...All indecently enjoyable for a tragedy.”
“[Hunt and Daniels] have such richness and evenness of tone coupled with a vivid sense of the dramatic and their two voices remain utterly distinctive in character. The chorus is superb: young and flexible-sounding; Christie directs a nuanced yet direct account”
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