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.
- Original listing for Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Deianira on BBC Radio 3, starring Joseph Fiennes
- The same production of Deianira listed on APGRD
- Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Deianira on Amazon (paperback)
- Sophocles’ Trachiniai in Greek at Perseus
- Sophocles Women of Trachis in English at Perseus – translated by Torrance