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Handel: Theodora 1996 (Glyndebourne: GFOCD 014-96) [Box set]

Lorraine Hunt , David Daniels , Dawn Upshaw , Richard Croft , Frode Olsen , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 29.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Conductor: William Christie
  • Composer: George Frideric Handel
  • Audio CD (30 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Glyndebourne
  • ASIN: B007N0SV06
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 133,881 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Overture
2. Tis Dioclesian's Natal Day
3. Go, My Faithful Solider, Go
4. And Draw a Blessing Down
5. Vouchsafe, Dread Sir
6. Racks, Gibbets, Sword, and Fire
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Unhappy, Happy Crew
2. Kind Heav'n, If Virtue Be Thy Care
3. O Love, How Great Thy Pow'r
4. Go, Gen'rous, Pious Youth
5. Ye Men of Antioch
6. Queen of Summer
See all 30 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Lord, to Thee Each Night and Day
2. But See, the Good, the Virtuous
3. When Sunk in Anguish and Despair
4. Blessed Be the Pow'r
5. Blessing, Honour, Adoration - Blest Be the Hand
6. Undaunted in the Court
See all 23 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Review

Handel's penultimate English oratorio was one of his least-heard masterpieces until Glyndebourne made it into a stage work in 1996. Those who saw Peter Sellars' production of Theodora with its original American cast or any of its revivals is unlikely to forget the experience. This CD latest addition to Glyndebourne's own archive series was recorded during the initial run, documenting Lorraine Hunt's peerless performance as Irene, Dawn Upshaw's touching Theodora and David Daniels, in his first major role in the UK, as Didymus. The recording isn't ideal the audience seems ever present, even during the musical numbers, and no attempt seems to have been made to edit them out any of their contributions. Anyone wanting a library version of the oratorio would be better considering one of the studio-made recordings, but as a memento of one of Glyndebourne's finest shows of recent times, it's matchless. **** --Guardian,04/04/12

Avid handelians must own this just for Lorraine Hunt's singing of as with rosy steps, which abound in integrity and humanity. --IRR, June'12

Product Description

GLY 01496; GLYNDEBOURNE - Inghilterra; Classica Lirica

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Handel's penultimate oratorio, despite being the composer's favourite, was a miserable failure lasting only three performances. Librettist Thomas Morell quotes Handel as saying "The Jews will not come to it because it is a Christian story; and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one." Its popularity was revived when it was staged by Glyndebourne as an opera in 1996 with an almost all-American cast. For those averse to Peter Sellars' production, with its depiction of a modern totalitarian state rather than presenting the authentic story of martyrdom by Roman persecution of Christians, this issue presents a preferable alternative to the DVD as it allows us to concentrate upon the production's musical values and ignore modish distractions. There is still rather too much audience noise and ambient rustling as well as persistent idiocies such as Sellars' having the chorus ape a Jeremy Kyle audience by whooping their approval of chief-Christian-basher Valens' bloodthirsty outbursts, but by and large the musical virtues of this performance fully justify its release on CD.

Never much of a fan of Dawn Upshaw, I concede that this is the finest thing I have heard from her; she sings with purity and feeling, although I still find her occasionally a little arch. Norwegian bass Frode Olsen is plausibly fanatical while still remaining elegant of voice. Richard Croft brings a very smooth, warm-toned tenor to bear on some very difficult music. But the two undoubted stars here are velvet-voiced mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt (before she became Hunt Lieberson) and the extraordinarily adept counter-tenor David Daniels. Both have such richness and evenness of tone coupled with a vivid sense of the dramatic and their two voices remain utterly distinctive in character.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recording 27 July 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Theodora is Handel's greatest oratorio even surpassing Messiah. My only disappointment with this set was the quality control (CDs were scratched). The box set is made in China.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who want glorious singing minus the visual distractions 29 May 2012
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Handel's penultimate oratorio, despite being the composer's favourite, was a miserable failure lasting only three performances. Librettist Thomas Morell quotes Handel as saying "The Jews will not come to it because it is a Christian story; and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one." Its popularity was revived when it was staged by Glyndebourne as an opera in 1996 with an almost all-American cast. For those averse to Peter Sellars' production, with its depiction of a modern totalitarian state rather than presenting the authentic story of martyrdom by Roman persecution of Christians, this issue presents a preferable alternative to the DVD as it allows us to concentrate upon the production's musical values and ignore modish distractions. There is still rather too much audience noise and ambient rustling as well as persistent idiocies such as Sellars' having the chorus ape a Jeremy Kyle audience by whooping their approval of chief-Christian-basher Valens' bloodthirsty outbursts, but by and large the musical virtues of this performance fully justify its release on CD.

Never much of a fan of Dawn Upshaw, I concede that this is the finest thing I have heard from her; she sings with purity and feeling, although I still find her occasionally a little arch. Norwegian bass Frode Olsen is plausibly fanatical while still remaining elegant of voice. Richard Croft brings a very smooth, warm-toned tenor to bear on some very difficult music. But the two undoubted stars here are velvet-voiced mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt (before she became Hunt Lieberson) and the extraordinarily adept counter-tenor David Daniels. Both have such richness and evenness of tone coupled with a vivid sense of the dramatic and their two voices remain utterly distinctive in character. The chorus is superb: young and flexible-sounding; Christie directs a direct yet nuanced account using a relatively small orchestra without losing the requisite sense of grandeur and without any irritating HIP mannerisms such as bulges or clipped phrasing.

This is one of the most consistently inventive and arresting of Handel's oratorios; highlights include Irene's heart-stoppingly beautiful "As with rosy steps the morn", Didymus's "The raptur'd soul" and the sublime aria and duet for him and Theodora at the close of the work as they go to their deaths.

The packaging is very attractive: a tastefully produced bound booklet with the CDs in slipcases at the front and back, a full English libretto, synopsis and essay by Stanley Sadie.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding recording of this Baroque Opera 15 Oct 2012
By Warren Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This three disc set from the Glyndebourne Festival Opera of a 1996 production of this opera features a young David Daniels (countertenor), Dawn Upshaw (soprano), Richard Croft (tenor), and Lorraine Hunt (mezzo-soprano). This tale of Christian Martyrdom in and of itself is quite fitting for a production, but this cast just sizzles. David Daniels was certainly in fine voice on the day this was recorded, as his rich velvet countertenor caresses the ears while Handel's music touches the heart and mind. Dawn Upshaw and Richard Croft both do remarkable justice to their characters, but Lorraine Hunt has just an amazing voice - it is captivating, and with Handel the voices themselves are in good hands. William Christie conducts and performs on harpsichord, and his touch is sure and the sound of his instrument bright.

As is typical of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera recordings (of which I have several), the liner notes are excellent, documenting not only the historical information relevant to the creation of this piece but also providing the full text of the opera. Photographs of the production are also reproduced therein. And the recording quality is just simply outstanding.

This three disc set is a steal. It is captivating, thrilling, and provides a very satisfying listening experience. It makes you wish you had been there in person. Very highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best version overall. .. . . 30 May 2013
By SB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The McCreesh also great w/ Gritton & Christie ( H. M. version ) has wonderful moments as well & I have all, as this work is one of Handel's most sublime . .. .but this version transcendent . .. .& L. Hunt was at her best ever & Dawn Upshaw always exceptional as well!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not ready for prime time 12 Feb 2014
By steve - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Whoa! How come no one has mentioned that for a recording made in 1996, the engineers at Glyndebourne have produced a recording (acoustically) a rung below the first "talkies" of the 1930s? What a disappointment. I bought this after hearing a pirate recording on the web. You'd be better off down-loading that. Come on Glyndebourne, have a little integrity.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handel's Greatest Work. 6 stars !!! 23 May 2013
By Chris Protopapas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Handel, when asked towards the end of his life what he thought his greatest work was, replied "Theodora". It's his next-to-last oratorio, and it is of such transcendant beauty that words fail to describe it. Everything that can be said about this performance has already been said better by others, so I won't even try. Peter Sellar's direction may not be to everyone's taste, but he had the vision to turn this English "Oratorio" into a viable stage piece, crucially giving Lorraine Hunt the opportunity to give her greatest dramatic performance. She's the star of this show, even if everyone else surpasses themselves as well. A sublime, overwhelming recording of Handel's greatest work. Not to be missed.
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