Monday, 30 June 2008

117. George Friedric Handel - Theodora (1750)


Title: Theodora
Performer: Susan Gritton, Paul Agnew, Robin Blaze, Gabrielli Consort and Players
Director: Paul McCreesh
Year: 2000
Length: about 2 hours 40 minutes (3CDs)


We say goodbye to Handel, just after we have said goodbye to Bach, with this Oratorio by the master of Oratorios. Interestingly it is also quite a big departure for Handel oratorios, it is actually more similar in structure to Handel's operas than his previous oratorios.

The arias are longer, the choirs much less in evidence, everything is more dramatic and the story is more contained than for example the sprawling Messiah which took up the whole life and after-death of Christ.

It is also one of his most beautiful oratorios, never as bombastic as the previous two we have had on this list, it is much more restrained, but also much more dramatic in a smaller sense of the word. More melodramatic I should perhaps say. This is not to say that there aren't some pretty amazing choirs, but the real outstanding bits of the work are the extended da capo arias, as good as any from his operas. That being said it doesn't capture the grandiosity of his other oratorios.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

There are two surviving quotes of Handel about Theodora. Morell quotes Handel as saying "The Jews will not come to it because it is a Christian story; and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one." Handel's colleague Burney took note when two musicians asked for free tickets for Messiah and Handel responded "Oh your servant, meine Herren! you are damnable dainty! you would not go to Theodora - there was room enough to dance there, when that was perform"!

Theodora was actually Handel's favorite of his oratorios. The composer himself ranked the final chorus of Act II, "He saw the lovely youth," "far beyond" "Hallelujah" in Messiah.

Duet Theodora and Didymus: "To thee, Thou glorious Son of Worth". :

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