Hercules HWV 60

Composer: Georg Frideric Handel (b. 1685 - d. 1759)
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Composer: Georg Frideric Handel (b. 1685 - d. 1759)

Performance date: 05/07/2018

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1744

Duration: 00:06:32

Recording Engineer: Ciaran Cullen, RTÉ

Instrumentation Category:Baroque Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: baroque ensemble

Artists: Camerata Øresund (Ida Lorenzen [violin], Tinne Albrechtsen [violin], Alison Luthmers [vioin], Rastko Roknic [viola], Hanna Loftsdóttir [cello], Joakim Peterson [double bass], Dohyo Sol [lute], Magdalena Karolak [oboe], Marcus Mohlin [harpsicord]) - [baroque ensemble]

Handel’s music drama Hercules was a flop when unveiled to a thrill-seeking public in London. A revival of Hercules in 1752, when three performances were given, again failed to please.

The libretto, by Thomas Broughton is based on Sophocle’s Trachiniae and tells the tale of the legendary hero Hercules. Having destroyed the city of Oechalia, Hercules returns home with the princess Iole – whose father he has killed. Centre to the storyline is his wife Dejanira becomes increasingly but irrationally consumed by jealously of the newcomer. Remembering a robe given to her which is supposed to revive the flames of love, Dejanira sends it to her husband – but it turns out that the robe is poisoned, and Hercules dies in agony. The climax of Hercules is Dejanira’s terrifying vision of the furies Where shall I fly? The aria is perhaps one of the eighteenth centuries greatest mad scenes. The recitative sways between disparate keys and tempos, crashing into an aria that alters between a deranged frenzy and an eerie calm that unfolds over a Purcellian ground bass.