Not quite heroic: Handel’s Hercules at the Barbican

The English Concert play beautifully, the chorus is in superb voice, but a disjointed cast of unconvincing singers mean Hercules never reaches heroic heights. Adapting Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, Handel’s librettist Thomas Broughton decided to tidy up the hero’s character for the 18th century, turning him into a virtuous husband. Apart from producing an immediate structural flaw in the plot, and being laughably comic from a classical point of view, this taming of Hercules reduces the story to a paltry little marriage spat which goes wrong, instead of the multi-layered, morally complex vendetta-martyrdom Sophocles gives his hero.

Click here to read my full review on Bachtrack.



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