About the album
Five superb singers – Lisette Oropesa, Joyce DiDonato, Paul-Antoine Bénos-Djian, Michael Spyres and John Chest – portray the characters in Handel’s Theodora under the direction of Maxim Emelyanychev, Chief Conductor of the instrumentalists and choral singers of Il Pomo d’Oro. An elevated and moving oratorio, Theodora tells the story of Christian martyrs in ancient Antioch under Roman occupation. Handel considered it among his best works. This recording was made at the end of a concert tour that visited Vienna, Milan, Paris, Luxembourg and Essen. “An evening of top-flight singing of a kind that is only rarely experienced,” was how one German reviewer summed up the performance, while in France it resulted in “a state of bliss”.
DiDonato wholly subsumes her voice to the character of Irene, distilling her world-famous mezzo power into pure-toned whispering, as in her mesmerising ‘As with Rosy Steps the Morn’. In her last aria (‘New scenes of joy’), Handel has Irene make sense of grief, and DiDonato’s dignified simplicity is more moving than anything flashier could be.BBC Music Magazine
Release date: October 28, 2022
Format: CD, mp3