Festival plans to put on all 42 Handel operas

Festival plans to put on all 42 Handel operas


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2020

It’s the centenary of the Handel Festival in Göttingen and they are nothing if not ambitious.

The May 2020 festival will produce all 42 of Handel’s operas in various formats, reductions and arrangements.

Until Göttingen launched its festival in 1920, they claim, hardly any of Handel’s operas had been seen for 200 years.

But all 42 in 3 weeks? A bit of a digestion problem.




  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Would love to be there.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “Absolutely brilliant.”

      Could be, but you obviously didn’t read the transcript:

      Deidamia: Slam Poetry meets Händel-Oper
      Händel goes Tinder: “Multimedia Oper”
      Ezio: HipHOpera
      Il pastor fido: Händel goes Tango
      Radamisto: Händel goes Pop

      Of course, there are 37 other operas out there. But they also mentioned Jazz-arrangements and readings, so there may be other horrible stuff lurking in the shadows.

      Ah, speaking of which:

      Giulio Cesare: Händel goes Impro

      Brettermeier now goes Drinking

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        I didn’t see that for some reason. My ‘translate’ function only showed me the small section about ‘Rodelinda’.

        ‘Horrible stuff lurking in the shadows”? I would avoid “horrible” and will readily take the “brilliant”. Always.

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    Every time I listen to Handel for more than, say, 30 mins – I really wish it was Bach as JSB has so much more to fill your ear, mind and soul

    • Stuart says:

      Yes, I prefer all of those operas by Bach to the less soul filling works of Handel. Oh, right, there aren’t any. I love Bach and especially the cantatas, but for opera, I run (don’t walk) back to Handel, who really fills my need for story, drama and narrative in glorious musical form. Fortunately I don’t have to choose between them – they wrote for different audiences using different styles and both are magnificent. Try Agrippina, or Serse, or Ottone or Giulio Cesare. Bach will always be there after you are enchanted by the Handel operas (albeit they are more than 30 minutes in length. They require a better than sitcom attention span.) And in direct comparison with Bach, listen to the new recording of Handel’s Brockes Passion conducted by Egarr. No need to fret about who is better as they both are.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        “Bach will always be there after you are enchanted by the Handel operas.” How fortunate we all are!!

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      I don’t see these as mutual exclusive – particularly the Bach operas!!!

    • fflambeau says:

      Beethoven considered Handel “God”. Enough said.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Perhaps a little extreme, but would love to see some.

  • Brettermeier says:

    “Dabei werden wir Ihnen, unserem Publikum, alle 42 Operntitel in den unterschiedlichsten Formaten präsentieren: szenisch, konzertant, als Jazz-Arrangement, Puppentheater, Film oder Lesung.”


    I guess the reading will be fun…

    “EZIO: Game of Rome – HipHOpera ”

    Ugh. Why.

    • Dich teure Halle says:

      Dear Brettermeyer: don‘t hurt your sensibilities – don‘t go. This way you will never know what they actually put on, and you can safely condemn it.

      • Brettermeier says:

        Dear Dych teure Halle: Yes! Shame on me for expecting Händel on a Händel festival! Bad Brettermeier! Bad, bad, bad! 😀

  • Hallelujah says:

    How many da capo arias will that be in all?

  • Jules says:

    JSB’s operas are a bit overrated I think….

  • geebee says:

    As hip as they make these operas to appeal to modern sensibilities, Baroque opera without the castrati is just ‘meh’

  • David Boxwell says:

    “Almira” uncut is longer than “Gotterdammerung.”

    It’s not an opera for old bladders.

  • fflambeau says:

    My post has nothing to do with this subject but does have lots to do with Handel.

    I once visited Handel House in Brook St., London (well worth it and recommended) when the very British tour guide noted that Handel lived with his butler for many years and left much of his money, house and possesions to him. I thought, that means a lot especially since Handel never married: it was obviously an “arrangement” to get around the feelings of the time. To bad the “I’m British-no sex please” tour guide never had a thought about that.

    • MWnyc says:

      Well, yes, there have been suggestions around for a couple of decades now that Handel might have been (what we now call) gay.

      On the other hand, wealthy people generally shared homes with their butlers; it was rather in the nature of the butler’s job to live in his employer’s home.

      And I think it wasn’t entirely unheard-of for a wealthy person with no blood heirs to leave his/her estate to a trusted and long-serving servant.

      So I wouldn’t take Handel’s will, by itself, as evidence that he and his butler were lovers.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    IMHO a silly idea, especially when in Handel there are so many self-borrowings. Better to select (say) the ten or so choicest operas – less eye-catching but not so gimmicky.

  • Maria says:

    God help them all and the audience. Give me Agrippina at the MET or Caesar at ENO any day with unbottled yet tasteful singers who can sing a lot more than either early music and 21st century music!!!