For devout Catholics, Lent is a serious affair. Most people don’t fast for 40 days in a literal sense, but you are encouraged to kick bad habits, and even cut back on activities you enjoy for a while. Abstinence helps us to achieve greater clarity and to set priorities, sometimes painfully realizing what we were taking for granted and only notice once it’s gone.
So this year, we were all celebrating Lent together. We are forced to realize that life is precious, fragile, and fleeting, that health is a blessing and friends are important. Art is indispensable. It delves deep into our common history, tradition and our subconscious; it sublimates every emotion humans are capable of, and thus comes to our aid and comfort when words fail.
Dear all, I’m stating the obvious when I say that we can’t tell for sure until when concerts will be cancelled. We’ll keep our schedules updated to the best of our knowledge.
Something personal: Please consider not seeking any re-reimbursement of your tickets. With your money, you will support future projects, and ensure that artists have festivals, productions and venues to return to when this is over.
Succeeding the pianist Sergei Babayan, Mr PJ is going to be “Curating Artist” at the Konzerthaus Dortmund for the 2020/21 season. Which means that in March, he is going to take over programming and concerts for a little while and is providing us with an unusual selection of events.
“Musically versatile” would be an understatement: There will be a masterclass, a moderated soirée, a classical recital, … An illustrious roster of artists is going to join him for a Nuit Française; there will be some solo concerts, and what seems to become his first conducting project.
For all the pieces written in his praise, authentic words from Philippe Jaroussky are somewhat hard to get by, so be sure to catch His Master’s Updates on the Théatre des Champs Elysée’s blog! [x]
As much as I love updates about red high-heels, let’s get serious for a moment: This is a production that’s not to be missed. William Christie and Les Arts Florissants don’t need much of an introduction; as far as Baroque is concerned, they’re one of the benchmarks other ensembles and conductors have to measure themselves against. To see more of the work of Stephen Langridge who’s setting the production in scene, let me point you to his website: [x].
After Paris, the production will be taken on an international tour (we don’t know for sure yet if scenic, half-scenic or concertante). Check the tour dates to see if there is a performance within your reach: [x]
Theodora by Georg Friedrich Händel is classified as a “dramatic oratorio”; it is meant from the start to be staged, unlike The Messiah, for instance. Theodora and Didymus are Christian martyrs, pursued for their faith. The plot is illustrating what living their faith means to them; we witness them staying true to their principles like selflessness and truthfulness, willing to pay the Ultimate Sacrifice in the end.
The piece merges elements of oratorios (like the extensive choir-pieces) and the spiritual topic with dramatic elements like a concise dramatic plot, featuring components that never grew out of fashion. There’s a lot of bromance going on between Didymus – a Roman soldier converted to Christianity – and his brother-in-arms, Septimius, and a variety of a prison setting where Didymus switches clothes with his Christian love Theodora to sacrifice his own freedom for that of Theodora’s.
To give you an idea of the sublime music, here’s the immortal Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson with “As with rosy steps the morn,” Irene’s aria.