Hercules

Oratorio in three acts (1745)
Music by Georg Friedrich Händel

Concertante performance in English

Thursday, 26 February 2015; 7 pm

Conductor: Harry Bicket
With Matthew Rose, Alice Coote et al.
The English Concert

Synopsis

Four years before the premiere in early January of 1745, George Frideric Handel had abandoned his efforts with regard to this opera and devoted himself entirely to the oratorio. He nevertheless described this work, as he had done his Semele the previous year, explicitly as a “musical drama”, presumably because he wished to emphasize the dramatic character of the two works. The premiere of Hercules was a flop; withdrawals at short notice and croaky-voiced singers led, according to those who witnessed it, to unintentionally grotesque situations. Unlike the ancient sources, the jealousy of Hercules’ wife is groundless in Thomas Broughton’s libretto. In this work, Handel was less interested in the titular hero than in the apparently tragic behaviour of his wife Dejanira, which contains pathological elements. In her, Handel created one of his most absorbing and modern female characters, who can only be explained using psychological techniques. It may be that, contrary to usual practice, Hercules cannot be classified in a particular genre, but according to the Handel expert Silke Leopold it is one of the historically most important, dramatically moving and musically enchanting works ever written by George Frideric Handel.

Cast

Oratorio in three acts (1745)

Music by Georg Friedrich Händel

Libretto by Thomas Broughton after Sophokles' Tragedy "Women of Trachis" and Ovids "Metamorphoses"

Performed in English

Conductor

Harry Bicket

Biography
Hercules

Matthew Rose

Biography
Dejanira

Alice Coote

Biography
Iole

Elizabeth Watts

Biography
Hyllus

James Gilchrist

Biography
Lichas

Rupert Enticknap

Biography
Orchestra & Choir

The English Concert

Biography