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…

Strong and stylish: Handel’s Ottone by English Touring Opera

Ottone was a great success for Handel in his lifetime, and the ravishing beauty of its music and exciting, dynamic plot shows us why. The consistently high production values of English Touring Opera, who make opera always beautiful but relevantly so, without facile aestheticism, breathe glorious life into Ottone, with a wonderful set, stunning costumes…

Delicious downtime with the Duchess: La descente d’Orphée aux enfers with the Early Opera Company

Closing your eyes while listening, you could easily imagine yourself in a gilt-edged salon, with Her Highness Mademoiselle Marie de Lorraine, Duchess of Guise, peer of France, princess of Joinville, hereditary seneschal of Champagne herself sitting not far from you, enjoying and approving every lovely note. Composed by Charpentier for Mlle de Guise’s court towards…