Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oh, Hercules!

(image courtesy of

Well, I attended the dress rehearsal of Handel's opera, Hercules, and really enjoyed it. Many thanks to Joe Carver and Arthur Haas for helping make this possible. The singers were amazing, and I especially liked the the work of the two female leads, Joyce DiDonato as Hercules' wife Dejanira and Ingela Bohlin as his captive Princess Iole. My ignorance of the operatic world in general means that I'd never heard of either of these singers, but they were both just fabulous. I, of course, paid a lot of attention to the work of the harpsichord continuo player, who was really awesome. I loved his lead-in flourishes between certain numbers and his strong playing overall. It was a real treat to hear someone so experienced play this music.

The emotional element of the production was quite intense, which I loved. The scene where Iole is lecturing Dejanira about jealousy being a destructive force in one's life was brilliant. There was also a real "Jerry Springer moment" when the two women lunged at each other and were then pulled apart because, of course, Hercules was philandering with Iole and Dejanira was pissed.

The only regret I had was that I had to leave at intermission, or else I wasn't going to get home until after midnight, and I was exhausted from a whole day of working at my soon-to-be-over day job. What I saw was really excellent, and I am grateful for the chance to see such a wonderful production of Hercules.


Harlan said...

I know little about opera, but your "Jerry Springer moment" reminded me of a contemporary opera I did see, Rouse's Dennis Cleveland. It's set up like a talk show, with guests, a Springer-like host, 4th-wall breaking "audience" partcipation (one fake-audience guy gets up and wails harmonica into the microphone). The pieces were quite something, but I didn't think it worked as a whole.

megc said...

You know, this sounds familiar, Harlan. It sounds a lot more avant garde with regard to its theatrics. Hercules was really intense emotionally, and very modern in its theatricality, in that people moved naturally, there was no baroque gesture and no affectations. Just very genuine and compelling. The costumes were all very modern, too, the singers wearing clothes you'd see anyone wearing on the street. It was the most modern costume array I'd ever seen in an opera. I think the subdued costuming was a good foil to the complex emotional and musical content.

Harlan said...

Interesting! You seem to have been pretty impressed by the show!

megc said...

It's funny, Harlan - I began to appreciate it more and more after I left the show, especially how the two women related to each other. The after-effects were meaningful. I think that is the mark of great art.

Did I mention the brilliance of the orchestra? They were really great and Bill Christie kept the really tight as a big band ensemble. It's quite something to hear.