Handel was just 23 when La resurrezione was first performed in Rome on Easter Sunday 1708. It was then described as an oratorio though it was evidently first performed in some form of staging, notwithstanding the prohibition of opera by the censors in Rome - and this is the way we did it in Chicago in 2005 in a fine production by Lilian Groag and conducted by Jane Glover.
I was delighted to have the rare opportunity to hear it again yesterday evening at the Wigmore Hall. And to be at a performance so perfectly cast, and played with such impeccable precision and style under Andrew Griffiths with the Early Opera Company forces, was indeed an additional pleasure. My goodness we are blessed with so many good things in London!
Of course the standout part is Mary Magdelene, taken superbly by Claire Booth singing Handel with impeccable style and immensely engaging personality. This versatile artist is something of a revelation in this repertoire given that she spans everything from Ollie Knussen backwards!
The Angel was Mhairi Lawson, more of an early music specialist but neither better nor worse for that - really excellent. And the Cleofe was the formidable Hilary Summers - lovely contralto voice and another fine stylist.
The men were the rising star Benjamin Hulett as St John. He had been so striking in Glyndebourne's Saul last year in a secondary role - truly this was marvellous singing with a hugely impressive presence - real quality. And the ever more accomplished bass Callum Thorpe completed this team as Lucifer. This was another feather in his cap.
I will be at the ENO Jenufa tomorrow - it opened last night but I chose the single performance of the Handel of course!