Handel's "La Resurrezione"
October 27, 2013
In his early twenties, Handel visited Italy, where in Rome he composed La Resurrezione, perhaps his most spectacular work from this period. Handel’s oratorio on Christ’s Resurrection spared no expense: the orchestration was expansive and multi-faceted, the canvas backdrop for the performance was both massive and intricately designed, including cherubs, palm trees, while the title of the work was backlit by dozens of light panels. No expense was spared. Handel’s patron, The Marquis of Ruspoli, fully renovated the hall to fully accommodate the awe-inspiring grandeur of the production. After numerous sold-out dress rehearsals, the first official performance took place on Easter Sunday of 1708 with an all-star cast of performers, including the violinist-composer Arcangelo Corelli on the solo violin. The performance even drew the ire of the Pope, who, probably mostly out of jealousy, admonished Ruspoli’s use of a female soprano (a castrato was quickly engaged for the following performances). La Resurrezione is essentially an action-packed, un-staged opera, to which Handel gave both virtuosic and profound voice to five roles. In Cambridge Concentus’s performance, Lucifer is sung by Jacob Cooper, Mary Magdalene by Shari Wilson, The Angel by Brenna Wells, St. John the Evangelist by Jason McStoots, and St. Mary Cleophas by Emily Marvosh. The highly sophisticated orchestral writing reveals the young Handel in his most brash, most experiential mode. Cambridge Concentus’s performance will be directed by Toronto-based conductor Kevin Mallon, who despite performing all over the world, will be making his Boston debut.