Self-sacrifice, then and now: Handel’s Theodora at the Barbican

Despite Nietzsche’s best efforts, God is not dead. Whether He is alive, beyond existence or merely too busy with the weather these days, there is no doubt that our world remains tragically full of people who will cheerfully die for – and kill for – their own vivid idea of God. This was no less true for Handel. In 1750, Handel’s Theodora, an oratorio which calls for pity, freedom and religious tolerance, was an instant flop. It was partly because, five years after the Jacobite Rebellion,Theodora was out of sync with the jubilant Protestant majority; partly because, as a Christian story, it didn’t appeal to Handel’s otherwise keen Jewish fans; and partly, as Handel himself wryly remarked, because Theodora is a story of virtue, “the Ladies will not come.”

Click here to read my full review on Bachtrack.


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