Semele at Bath

ONE of Handel’s most popular operas, Semele, is the winter choice for Bath Opera, and the first opera by Handel in the company’s 25 years of performing fully-staged operas. It will be at Bath’s Roper Theatre from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th February at 7.30pm.

This raunchy story of adultery among the Greek (or Roman) gods and nymphs has a libretto that was written by William Congreve, one of the leading Restoration playwrights, and used by Handel for his new work, which had its first performance during the Lent season at Covent Garden in 1744. (It must have been quite a change from the usual solemn Biblical subjects for that pre-Easter period!)

The principal soloists will be Alex Pinkstone as Jupiter and soprano Hannah Drury in the title role. She has Semele’s greatest aria, and one of Handel’s best-loved, Where ‘ere you walk.

Bath Opera will have a small baroque orchestra, under the company’s musical director Peter Blackwood, to give the right sound for Handel’s gorgeous and colourful music. Violinist Alison Townsend will lead the orchestra and Steven Hollas will play the continuo on the harpsichord.

Originally written as an oratorio, Semele’s plot and action are so
dramatic that it lends itself to the full operatic treatment – both Covent Garden and Glyndebourne have staged it in the last year.

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