When Harry Bicket assumed the artistic directorship of The English Concert in 2007, one of his missions was to bring the baroque chamber orchestra back to the operatic literature that represented some of the highest points of the music of the 18th century. It was a conversation after a performance of the Santa Fe Opera, of which Bicket is now also music director, that the idea came about of touring an outstanding but underrepresented Handel opera or oratorio around Europe and to Carnegie Hall each season. Beginning with a memorable Radamisto in 2013, respective performances of Theodora, Alcina and Orlando have followed annually, each with outstanding international level vocalists, presenting the glory of Handel’s best work at the highest possible level. But for all the starry glamour of these casts, the orchestra has remained front and center, providing performances of irrepressible energy and moving pathos. An English Concert Handel opera performance has become a high point of the Carnegie Hall season, attracting large audiences and generating considerable excitement both among the public and the critics. With more than 60 operas and oratorios by the composer, we can expect this project to continue for many years to come.
Photo by Richard Haughton