Capella Savaria, Hungary's oldest chamber orchestra playing on period instruments, is turning 40 this year. What we'll be hearing at this concert will be their performance of Handel's oratorio Theodora presented in collaboration with György Vashegyi's Purcell Choir and some outstanding soloists.
"George Frideric Handel's oratorio Theodora, written in the summer of 1749 and premièred at London's Covent Garden on 16 March 1750 was the composer's penultimate 'original' - meaning one that did not recycle music he had already created - oratorio, set to a libretto penned by the Reverend Thomas Morell. This work adapting the story of early Christian martyrs in Antioch is Handel's sole piece of musical drama with a purely Christian theme: its première was not a success, and it would fail to gai...n favour afterwards too. While other previous oratorios of his (particularly Messiah) gradually grew in popularity, performances of Theodora were played in front of a practically empty house: this extraordinarily meaning work was presented a mere four times in the composer's lifetime. At the same time, there were exceptions, whose opinion was aptly summarised in a letter written by the Earl of Shaftesbury on the day after the third performance on 23 March 1750: 'I cannot finish my letter and forget Theodora. I have heard it three times and I dare declare that it is a composition as perfect, beautiful and well-elaborated as any of Handel's works. I understand that he spent a considerable time writing it. It is not at all liked in the city, but Mr. Kellaway and other outstanding musicians hold an opinion similar to mine.' At the same time, thanks to Morell, we know that when Handel was asked among company (towards the end of his life) whether - in keeping with general opinion - he considered the Hallelujah chorus of the Messiah his most successful work, he replied that 'the final chorus at the end of Act 2 of Theodora far surpasses it.' For me, Theodora is perhaps Handel's most dramatic composition: a magnum opus for the Baroque age of the same rank as the most important works of Purcell, Bach and Rameau. It was an honour for us to present the work in Hungary in November 2004." György Vashegyi
Presented by: Sysart Kft. Orfeo Music Foundation
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Refreshments – Without the Queue
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