Handel and Opera

As much as I love Handel’s oratorios, his 42 operas are his supreme achievement. Another digression. I met my wife in the Spring of 1998 and we got together, in no small part, because my father developed a very serious tumor and was in the hospital for most of the next year. Over the course of that year, I took her to her first opera (to be detailed in a future post, but rest assured it was not your standard Italian fare) and my father literally yelled at me from his hospital bed that I was going to turn her off to opera and, presumably, to me. She loved it. For a second opera, I took her to see Handel’s Giulio Cesare. Same lecture; same result. Giulio Cesare remains, I believe, her favorite opera.

Glyndebourne, the great summer opera festival in England, invited William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment do this back when we were living in London. I was going to go, but got too busy at work: A major life regret. Here are a few highlights from the opera, using the great Glyndebourne production where possible. The story is one we all know–Julius Caesar’s conquest of Egypt.

George Frideric Handel, Giulio Cesare

Da tempeste il legno infranto:

‘Caro Bella:

Full opera:

Telemann may have been the favorite of the people and Bach the favorite of musicologists. But Handel was the favorite of his contemporaries and those composers who immediately succeeded him.

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