When you think of Handel’s Amadigi (in so far as anyone thinks about the composer’s rarely staged, also-ran London score at all) it’s as a magic-opera. Sorcerers and sorceresses do battle in a fantasy land not found on any map. The stage directions alone are enough to stir the commercial loins of any 18th-century impresario. Enchanted palaces are ‘split asunder’, caves transformed into ‘beautiful palaces’, monsters ‘ascend from the bowels of the Earth’ and a chariot ‘descends covered in clouds’.
Few periods in human history are as universally associated with the work of a single artist as the first half-century of the United Kingdom’s Hanoverian dynasty is with the music of Georg Friedrich Händel. Just as the 1714 death of Queen Anne left the British throne without a direct-line occupant, the untimely demise of Henry Purcell in 1695 deprived English music of its foremost talent, initiating a time of transition during which there was no native-born composer whose gifts earned universal acceptance as those of Purcell’s rightful successor. The 1701 Act of Settlement that denied Catholic claimants a path to Britain’s crown by recognizing scions of the German-speaking Haus Hannover as Anne’s heirs presumptive was not concerned with culture, but its implications could not have affected music in England more profoundly.
WITH ORCHESTRA OF THE ANTIPODES