Cast Valens Frode Olsen bass Didymus David Daniels counter-tenor Septimius Richard Croft tenor Theodora Dawn Upshaw soprano Irene Lorraine Hunt mezzo-soprano Messenger Michael Hart-Davis tenor William Christie conductor, continuo Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment The Glyndebourne Chorus Christopher Moulds chorus master
Here for the first time on CD is Glyndebourne’s acclaimed 1996 production of Handel’s oratorio Theodora. Although Theodora is a story of a virtuous woman and sexual persecution, this has not proved to be an obstacle to its enduring success, the subject a deeply touching one, resonating from the age of antiquity to the present day. The recording is the debut on the Glyndebourne label for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, one of Glyndebourne’s two resident orchestras.
This audio release, in no way detracting from the extraordinary Peter Sellar’s production, allows the focus to be on the soloists, conductor and orchestra. This recording confirms Lorraine Hunt as a true Handelian, capturing the spirit of Irene as few others could. In counter-tenor David Daniels as Didymus, there is a breadth of range drawing the listener away from the oft strained and forced falsetto sound. From the outset Dawn Upshaw is a heartfelt Theodora culminating magnificently in her final duet with Daniels ‘Thither let our hearts aspire…’ the delivery, sensitivity and ensemble nothing short of numbing.
There is no better choice of debut release from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on the Glyndebourne label, William Christie’s musical approach one of transcendence, making the most of this wonderful music. Great opera performances are often fleeting moments in time but since 1960, every note of every Glyndebourne Festival performance has been recorded. ‘Eaves-dropping’ on these live performances allows some of the most seminal opera performances of the last fifty years to be enjoyed by all.