HomeOperaFestal pleasure triumphant « parterre field

Festal pleasure triumphant « parterre field

Proper after San Francisco Opera completes their Summer season season and San Francisco Symphony switches to light-fare and household leisure, it’s time for varied Festivals taking place throughout Bay Space. Final weekend by pure coincidence, we had been graced by back-to-back performances of George Frideric Handel’s oratorio and opera (therefore, the Handel weekend!)

Aside from his eternal Messiah, performances of Handel’s operas and oratorios round listed below are few and much between, and in the event that they make look, it’s often courtesy of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. On the Conflict Memorial stage, solely 7 operas (out of his 42) and 1 oratorio (Semele) has been carried out so far, the final one being Orlando 4 years in the past.

Due to this fact, you might think about my pleasure of listening to the bulletins of the Handel weekend. And what a stunning weekend it was!

On Saturday, American Bach Soloists (ABS) introduced Handel’s uncommon oratorio Belshazzar in live performance kind as a part of their 2022 Summer season Bach Pageant. In his discuss, ABS Creative Director—and in addition the conductor of the night efficiency—Jeffrey Thomas talked about that the oratorio was so uncommon that “you’re unlikely to see it once more”, though in Europe it will likely be carried out staged at Theater an der Wien subsequent February.

Belshazzar was composed by Handel in 1744 (concurrent along with his extra well-known oratorio Hercules) with libretto by Charles Jennens, who simply three years earlier collaborated with Handel in Messiah. The oratorio was principally primarily based on the well-known Belshazzar’s Feast scene of The E book of Daniel from The Outdated Testomony, though Jennens additionally drew prophecies from Isaiah and Jeremiah as properly. To make this “dramatic oratorio” work as a story, he additionally consulted Greek historians Herodotus (for the central position of Belshazzar’s mom Nitocis) and Xenophon (the story of Gobryas).

The end result was a taut and powerfully informed story, full with superb choruses. Sadly, the premier on March 27, 1745 was not profitable, and the oratorio remained sometimes carried out. A very attention-grabbing anecdote in regards to the story was the truth that it’s the supply of the idiom “writing on the wall”, as the looks of such ominous function contributed to a big flip of the occasion within the story/oratorio.

American Bach Soloists actually made a compelling case in showcasing Belshazzar’s greatness. Armed with well-chosen soloists and dramatically partaking American Bach Cantorei, Thomas selected well-judged tempi all through and really accommodative to his singers, a lot of whom had labored with him previously (two members of the solid even gained the Jeffrey Thomas Awards!) Given what I assumed a quite quick rehearsal time for this live performance, the success of this efficiency was much more extraordinary.

I solely wished ABS carried out this uncommon oratorio in its entirety and I additionally wished that extra individuals attended this efficiency! They lower just about all scenes involving Nitocis and Daniel, together with the entire opening scene (the place Nitocis grew to become satisfied that the Jewish God was the true God and Daniel suggested her that submission to the desire of God can be rewarded) and at first of Act 3 (ensuing Daniel shedding his aria “Can the black Aethiop change his pores and skin”).

As well as, two full numbers for the Refrain had been dropped, together with the haunting “Oh, distress! Oh terror, hopeless grief!”, the Babylonians’ terrified response to the entire “writing on the wall” episode. I understood that this was completed for time administration, however for a bit this uncommon and a efficiency this good, it definitely can be good to listen to it in full!

Soprano Maya Kherani, contemporary from performing Fortuna/Drusilla in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea at Pageant d’Aix-en-Provence, introduced out the tenderness in Nitocis, a mom who clearly noticed the damaging nature of her son however unable to cease it. Kherani’s delicate instrument gleamed brightly all through and he or she had good rapport with each tenor Matthew Hill (as Belshazzar) and countertenor Eric Jurenas (as Cyrus), whose duets had been a few of the highlights of the night time. It was a pity that she tripped just a little through the florid fioritura of Nitocis’ aria “The leafy honors of the sector”, however she recovered properly afterwards.

Jurenas portrayed Cyrus, the shining beacon of advantage on this piece, in a completely sympathetic method. His voice sounded heat and pleasant, though his high notes turned metallic at occasions. Nonetheless, the viewers actually purchased that his character was wholesomely good (though, in my thoughts I saved resisting the notion {that a} ruler could possibly be this pure!)

As Daniel, mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit—who additionally participated within the following day opera—didn’t have an excessive amount of to sing as lots of her scenes had been lower (together with two arias). It was a pity, as Coit has a stunning voice, though she was extraordinarily cautious in her supply. Bass-baritone Mischa Bouvier fared higher because the vengeful Gobryas, trying to settle the rating with Belshazzar for murdering his son. Bouvier managed to alternate his characterization of the grieving father between pity and anger, to make Gobryas a full human, not a monster.

The American Bach Cantorei was actually an asset that night time, as they acted nearly like a chameleon, alternatingly between the soul-stirring Refrain of the Judeans, the rallying struggle cry of the Refrain of the Persians, to the reckless abandon of the Refrain of the Babylonians. Significantly spectacular was their transition between the primary two scenes of Act 2, the juxtaposition between “To arms, to arms” (The Persians marching to Babylon) and “Ye tutelar gods of our empire” (The Babylonians’ consuming refrain)!

I saved the perfect for final, as personally I felt the night time belonged to Hill because the title position. With a booming voice, a unprecedented breath management, a mastery of coloratura method and a commanding stage presence in addition, he was merely a sight to behold, proper from the opening notes of “Let festal pleasure triumphant reign”. Belshazzar isn’t a simple position to carry out, as he’s primarily an asshole, a blasphemous tyrant. In Hill’s fingers, he interpreted Belshazzar extra as a younger man prepared for an evening of celebration. The viewers lapped his antics up, and Hill acquired the largest applause through the bows!

The weekend continues with Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and firm tomorrow in parterre field.



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