Recap 2023

Semele HWV 58


4:00 pm | May 27th, 2023 | ~ 3,5 h
Deutsches Theater Göttingen

Following the success of last year's Giulio Cesare, George Petrou stages again and conducts the oratorio SEMELE HWV 58. The new production of Semele features soprano Marie Lys, well-known in Göttingen, in the title role, as well as one of Britain's greatest tenors, Jeremy Ovenden, in the challenging role of Jupiter. Star mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux takes on the dual role of Juno and Ino, and the Athens Chamber Choir, a brilliant young ensemble based in the Greek capital, will sing Handel's magnificent choruses.

Semele has arrived at the summit of her dreams. Or so it seems when she exuberantly rhapsodizes in the second act about “Endless pleasure, endless love”. Her secret paramour Jupiter has whisked her away to a castle in the air where nothing is lacking: servants, jewelry, parties and sex – all available without limits. At one point, however, doubts begin to gnaw at her soul. As a human being, Semele feels inferior to a god. Jupiter's wife, Juno, knows just how to capitalize on these insecurities. Jealous of her husband's affair, she appears to Semele in the form of her sister Ino and provides counsel: if she wishes to put Jupiter's loyalty to the test, she must force him to reveal himself to her in his true, divine form – thereby rendering her immortal.

George Frideric Handel transformed this ancient material into a musical drama – but did not write an opera! He noted on the score: “After the manner of an oratorio.” Handel's goal in this was to escape the conventions of opera: instead of a virtuoso show replete with a confusing plot, a new level of clarity was to be introduced. Fewer figures on stage, but all the more complex character depictions. He achieved this brilliantly in his Semele – in particular with respect to the main characters Semele, Jupiter and Juno, who are among the most challenging roles Handel ever created.

Further performances

19.5. | 6 pm (PREMIERE)
20.5. | 6 pm
23.5. | 6 pm
28.5. | 6 pm

Pre-performance talks (en.)
Deutsches Theater Göttingen, DT-X Keller

19.5. | 5 pm
Prof. Donald Burrows

20.5. | 5 pm
Prof. Donald Burrows

27.5. | 3 pm
Dr. Amanda Babington

28.5. | 5 pm
Dr. Amanda Babington

Admission free with valid ticket.

Marie Lys Soprano | Semele

Jeremy Ovenden Tenor | Jupiter, Apollo

Vivica Genaux Mezzo-soprano | Ino, Juno

Rafał Tomkiewicz Countertenor | Athamas

Riccardo Novaro Baritone | Cadmus, Somnus, High Priest

Marilena Striftombola Soprano | Iris

Kammerchor Athen

Agathangelos Georgakatos Chorus master

FestspielOrchester Göttingen

George Petrou Director and conductor

Paris Mexis Stage and costume designer

Stella Kaltsou Lighting designer

Performance material: Bärenreiter-Verlag

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