Handel and the Hanoverians | London Handel Festival celebrates Handel’s work with the reigning Hanoverian monarchy
New staging of Handel’s Susanna at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre, a co-production between the LHF and the ROH [5 – 14 March]
Annual Handel Singing Competition final held at St George’s, Hanover Square [26 March]
Festival Voices return with their Handel Remixed programme, presented at Peckham’s Bussey Building [27 March]
Venues include Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall, Foundling Museum, St George’s Hanover Square, Milton Court, St John’s Smith Square and Peckham’s Bussey Building
Ensembles such as the London Handel Orchestra, London Handel Players, Academy of Ancient Music, Early Opera Company, Opera Settecento, Brook Street Band, Choir of St George’s with a host of top soloists and conductors such as Katie Bray, Sophie Junker, Anna Stéphany and Mary Bevan
The London Handel Festival returns for its 42nd year presenting five weeks of concerts and performances across venues across London, from the Royal Opera House to Peckham’s Bussey Building. The 2020 Festival takes the theme of ‘Handel and the Hanoverians’, exploring the links between Handel and the reigning Hanoverian monarchy at the time, to whom Handel dedicated much of his music, and whose patronage he enjoyed. Alongside performances of Handelian masterpieces, the Festival also puts on chamber music recitals, lunchtime concerts, guided walks, insight talks and its popular ‘come and sing’ event. Full programming will be announced in early 2020.
Samir Savant, Festival Director of the London Handel Festival, said: “I am delighted to present our 2020 Season ‘Handel and the Hanoverians’. This will explore the rich variety of compositional output Handel dedicated to his royal patrons, and furthermore his adept diplomacy in maintaining good relations with the feuding generations of the royal family at the time.”
A highlight of this year’s festival is the new staging of Susanna at the Royal Opera House’s newly refurbished Linbury Theatre [5-14 March], a co-production between the London Handel Festival and the Royal Opera House, following the success of the collaboration for Berenice in 2019. The production is directed by Isabelle Kettle, 2019/20 Jette Parker Young Artist (JPYA) and is conducted by 2018/29 JPYA Patrick Milne who makes his Linbury Theatre conducting debut. The production stars members and Link Artists from the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme: Masabene Cecilia Rangwanasha in the title role alongside Patrick Terry (2nd Prize winner of the 2019 Handel Singing Competition), Yaritz Véliz, April Koyejo-Audiger, Michael Mofidian, Andrés Presno and Blaise Malaba. Handel’s Susanna sees its first performance at Covent Garden since its premiere there in 1749.
In keeping with the ‘Handel and the Hanoverians’ theme, LHF Associate Director Adrian Butterfield conducts Handel’s Parnasso in Festa, a work written in celebration of the marriage of Anne, Princess Royal and Prince William of Orange. Katie Bray leads the cast which includes Eszter Balogh and Charlotte Bowden, accompanied by the London Handel Orchestra at Wigmore Hall [10 March]. Butterfield also conducts an evening of Handel chamber music with the London Handel Players at the Foundling Museum which – in its days as a hospital – was supported by Handel through donations and performances [13 March]. The programme includes music by both Handel and Jean-Marie Leclair who were both favoured teachers of Anne, Princess Royal, as a child.
In addition to performing popular masterpieces by Handel, the London Handel Festival also presents his lesser known works. The 2020 Festival includes a performance of Handel’s rarely-heard oratorio The Triumph of Time and Truth,a piece he re-worked several times across fifty years. LHF Musical Director Laurence Cummings conducts the work at Handel’s own church St George’s, Hanover Square, with the London Handel Orchestra and a star cast of previous Handel Singing Competition finalists Sophie Junker, William Wallace, Helen Charlston and Tim Nelson [17 March].
Performing at the London Handel Festival for the first time is the Academy of Ancient Music who present a programme of ‘Handel’s Heroines’ with Mary Bevan and Jennifer France, conducted by Laurence Cummings. The concert, which features arias from some of Handel’s best-loved operas and oratorios including Serse, Ariodante, Rinaldo and Semele, takes place at Milton Court, a new venue for the Festival [19 March].
Handel’s Serse is one of his lesser-known operas, having disappeared from the stage for nearly 200 years. Christian Curnyn returns to the Festival with the Early Opera Company to perform this work at St John’s Smith Square with soloists Anna Stéphany, Edward Grint, Hilary Summers and 2019 HSC finalist Patrick Terry [25 March].
Following the success of their Dixit Dominus performance in the 2019 Festival, Gregory Batsleer and Festival Voices return to the LHF with their Handel Remixed programme at Peckham’s Bussey Building [27 March]. The Festival presents its annual ‘come and sing’ event the following day with Laurence Cummings and Belsize Baroque, performing Handel’s Coronation Anthems [28 March].
Other highlights include performances by visiting ensembles. The Festival welcomes back John Andrews and the Brook Street Band, one of the UK’s foremost interpreters of Handel’s music (and named after the street in Mayfair where Handel lived and composed for most of his working life) with a programme including Thomas Arne’s Alfred, written originally to commemorate the accession of George I [2 April]. Opera Settecento will also continue their exploration of Handel pasticcio works with Fernando conducted by Leo Duarte with soloists Owen Willetts, Raphaela Papadakis, Jorge Navarro Colorado, Helen Charlston, Jess Dandy, David Greco and Hamish McLaren [1 April].
The Handel Singing Competition – now in its 19th year – continues Handel’s tradition of nurturing young talent [HSC final 26 March]. Many of the young singers Handel encouraged went on to become his star soloists and were known as “Mr Handel’s Scholars”. Building on Handel’s work, the Festival helps to develop young singers by working with HSC alumni by presenting a series of lunchtime recitals with finalists from the previous year. The Festival also presents its popular “Mr Handel’s Scholars” concert again with HSC alumni with Laurence Cummings and the London Handel Orchestra at St George’s, Hanover Square [20 March].
The 2020 Festival culminates in a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at St George’s, Hanover Square, a work the Festival has performed annually for many years. The sacred oratorio is sung in German as part of the Good Friday Vespers service, providing a rare opportunity for audiences to experience the work in its original liturgical context. The London Handel Orchestra and Laurence Cummings are joined by soloists Alexandra Gibson, Nathan Vale and George Humphreys in addition to the Choir of St George’s [10 April].
These performances sit alongside the usual packed calendar of intimate chamber music recitals, lunchtime concerts, guided walks and insight talks. More details will be announced nearer the time.