Handel: Theodora, HWV 68

Naxos: 8572700-02

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Handel: Theodora, HWV 68

Label:

Naxos

Catalogue No:

8572700-02
(8.572700-02)

Discs:

3

Release date:

27th Feb 2012

Barcode:

0747313270071

Length:

2 hours 51 minutes

Medium:

CD (download also available)
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Handel: Theodora, HWV 68


Christina Wieland (Theodora), Diana Schmid (Irene), Franz Vitzthum (Didymus), Knut Schoch (Septimius), Mertens (Valens)

Junge Kantorei & Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra, Joachim Carlos Martini

CD - 3 discs

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Set in a time of ancient Rome’s persecution of the Christians, Handel’s late masterpiece Theodora tells of the tragic martyrdom of the heroine and her lover Didymus. The challenging nature of the libretto with its religious conflict, cruelty, self-sacrifice and brothel scene was discomforting for contemporary audiences, and despite Handel’s magnificent music the oratorio was his least successful.

This is part of a series of Handel oratorios from Martini and Junge Kantorei.

Joachim Carlos Martini’s series of Handel’s oratorios has gained considerable critical acclaim and a sizeable following, with ‘first rate’ recommendations from publications such as the Penguin Guide (on Tobit, 8570113-14). Controversial in its time and relatively neglected since, if anything the themes of Theodora resonate more today. Handel’s masterly score is given a tremendous performance here, with a recording consistent with the extremely high standards of the rest of the series.

George Frideric Handel: Theodora, HWV 68

Overture

Act I Scene 1: Recitativo: 'Tis Dioclesian's natal day (Valens)

Act I Scene 1: Air: Go, my faithful soldier, go (Valens)

Act I Scene 1: Chorus: And draw a blessing down (Chorus of Heathens)

Act I Scene 1: Recitativo: Vouchsafe, dread Sir (Didymus, Valens)

Act I Scene 1: Air: Racks, gibbets, sword and fire (Valens)

Act I Scene 1: Chorus: For ever thus stands fix'd the doom (Chorus of Heathens)

Act I Scene 2: Recitativo: Most cruel edict! (Didymus)

Act I Scene 2: Air: The raptur'd soul (Didymus)

Act I Scene 2: Recitativo: I know thy virtues, and ask not thy faith (Septimius)

Act I Scene 2: Air: Descend, kind Pity (Septimius)

Act I Scene 3: Recitativo: Though hard, my friends (Theodora)

Act I Scene 3: Air: Fond flatt'ring world, adieu! (Theodora)

Act I Scene 3: Recitativo: Oh bright example of all goodness (Irene)

Act I Scene 3: Aria: Bane of virtue, nurse of passions (Irene)

Act I Scene 3: Chorus: Come, mighty Father, mighty Lord (Chorus of Christians)

Act I Scene 4: Recitativo: Fly, fly my brethren (Messenger, Irene)

Act I Scene 4: Air: As With Rosy Steps (Irene)

Act I Scene 4: Chorus: All pow'r in Heaven above, or earth beneath (Chorus of Christians)

Act I Scene 5: Recitativo: Mistaken wretches, why thus blind to fate (Septimius)

Act I Scene 5: Air: Dread the fruits of Christian folly (Septimius)

Act I Scene 5: Recitativo: Deluded mortal! (Theodora, Septimius)

Act I Scene 5: Recitativo: Oh worse than death indeed! (Theodora)

Act I Scene 5: Air: Angels, ever bright and fair (Theodora)

Act I Scene 6: Recitativo: Unhappy, happy crew! (Didymus, Irene)

Act I Scene 6: Accompagnato and Air: Kind Heaven, if virtue be thy care (Didymus)

Act I Scene 6: Recitativo: Oh Love, how great thy pow'r! (Irene)

Act I Scene 6: Chorus: Go, gen'rous pious youth! (Chorus of Christians)

Act II Scene 1: Recitativo: Ye men of Antioch, with solemn pomp (Valens)

Act II Scene 1: Chorus: Queen of summer, queen of love (Chorus of Heathens)

Act II Scene 1: Air: Wide spread his Name (Valens)

Act II Scene 1: Recitativo: Return, Septimius, to the stubborn maid (Valens)

Act II Scene 1: Chorus: Venus laughing from the skies (Chorus of Heathens)

Act II Scene 2: Symphony

Act II Scene 2: Recitative: O thou bright sun! How sweet thy rays (Theodora)

Act II Scene 2: Air: With darkness deep (Theodora)

Act II Scene 2: Symphony

Act II Scene 2: Recitativo: But why art thou disquieted, my soul? (Theodora)

Act II Scene 2: Air: Oh that I on wings could rise (Theodora)

Act II Scene 3: Recitativo: Long have I known thy friendly social soul. (Didymus, Septimius)

Act II Scene 3: Air: Though the honours, that Flora and Venus receive from the Romans (Septimius)

Act II Scene 3: Recitativo: Oh save her then, or give me pow'r (Didymus, Septimius)

Act II Scene 3: Air: Deeds of kindness to display, pity suing (Didymus)

Act II Scene 4: Recitativo: The clouds begin to veil the hemisphere (Irene)

Act II Scene 4: Aria: Defend her Heaven! (Irene)

Act II Scene 5: Recitativo: Or lull'd with grief or rapt her soul to heaven (Didymus)

Act II Scene 5: Air: Sweet Rose and Lilly (Didymus)

Act II Scene 5: Recitativo: Oh save me, Heaven (Theodora, Didymus)

Act II Scene 5: Aria: The pilgrim's home (Theodora)

Act II Scene 5: Accompagnato: Forbid it, Heaven! (Didymus)

Act II Scene 5: Recitativo: Or say, what right have I to take what just reflection (Didymus, Theodora)

Act II Scene 5: Duet: To thee, thou glorious son of worth (Theodora, Didymus)

Act II Scene 6: Recitativo: 'Tis night; but night's sweet blessing (Irene)

Act II Scene 6: Chorus: He saw the lovely youth, death's early prey (Chorus of Christians)

Act III Scene 1: Air: Lord, to Thee each night and day (Irene)

Act III Scene 2: Recitativo: But see, the good, the virtuous Didymus (Irene, Theodora)

Act III Scene 2: Air: When sunk in anguish and despair (Theodora)

Act III Scene 2: Chorus: Blest be the hand, and blest the pow'r (Theodora, Chorus of Christians)

Act III Scene 3: Recitativo and Accompagnato: Undaunted in the court stands Didymus (Messenger, Irene, Theodora)

Act III Scene 3: Duet: Wither, Princess, do you fly? (Irene, Theodora)

Act III Scene 3: Recitativo: She's gone, disdaining liberty and life (Irene)

Act III Scene 3: Air: New scenes of joy (Irene)

Act III Scene 4: Recitativo: Is it a Christian virtue then (Valens, Didymus) - Scene 5: Be that my doom! (Theodora, Septimius)

Act III Scene 5: Air: From virtue springs each gen'rous deed (Septimius)

Act III Scene 5: Air: Cease, ye slaves, your fruitless pray'r (Valens)

Act III Scene 5: Recitativo: 'Tis kind, my friends, but kinder still (Didymus, Theodora)

Act III Scene 5: Chorus: How strange their ends (Chorus of Heathens)

Act III Scene 5: Recitativo: On me your frowns your utmost rage exert (Didymus, Theodora, Valens)

Act III Scene 5: Air: Ye ministers of justice, lead them hence (Valens)

Act III Scene 6: Recitativo: And must such beauty suffer? (Didymus, Theodora, Septimius)

Act III Scene 6: Air and Duet: Streams of pleasure ever flowing (Didymus, Theodora)

Act III Scene 7: Recitativo: Ere this their doom is past (Irene)

Act III Scene 7: Chorus: Oh love devine, thou source of fame (Chorus of Christians)

Gramophone Magazine

July 2012

“Capable soloists provide some fine moments despite the awkwardness of their English vowels; Franz Vitzhum performs Didymus tastefully, Knut Schoch's singing is intelligent and Diana Schmid's 'Defend her, Heaven' is captivating...The Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra is on good form and Martini respects Handel's orchestrations but his conducting is often lugubrious.”

International Record Review

May 2012

“[Mertens's] voice is so fresh-sounding that I think few would know that he was just over 60...Very clear in all he sings is Knut Schoch as Septimius...[Schmid] has a soft grain to her tone, which suits the gentle Irene...A crystalline quality marks Wieland's pure sound, also fitting her character. She is limber in her swifter arias and blends beautifully with the Didymus of Franz Vitzhum...all he does in this performance is worth listening to.”

The Guardian

4th April 2012

***

“it's the singer in the role of Irene, the mezzo Diana Schmid, who attracts most attention, with the generosity of her phrasing and warm even tone.”

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