The English Concert’s 2023/24 season centres on the works of Handel and includes collaborations with returning artists Iestyn Davies, Lucy Crowe and Kristian Bezuidenhout. This season will see the orchestra’s continued dedication to the works of Handel, through a tour of Rodelinda concert performances of Clori, Tirsi and Fileno, in addition to regular uploads of concert footage as part of Handel for All, The English Concert’s legacy project dedicated to streaming all of Handel’s music.
Alfonso Leal de Ojo, Chief Executive of The English Concert said, “This season our flagship legacy project, Handel for All, will celebrate its first birthday in February – an important milestone in our journey to celebrate the works of Handel. Our programme of his works continues to flourish both online and on stage, as ‘Rodelinda’ tours to Europe, North America and Asia, and ‘Clori, Tirsi and Fileno’ receives a special staging at Wigmore Hall. In addition to the works of Handel, we also dedicate the opening of our season to another great baroque master, Bach, as Iestyn Davies takes to the stage with The English Concert for a late-night Prom featuring some of his most inspired works for voice.”
BBC Prom – Late Night Bach
Countertenor Iestyn Davies returns to the BBC Proms with The English Concert for a late-night concert featuring the works of Bach (25 August). Davies will perform two of Bach’s solo cantatas, Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust and Geist und Seele wird verdwirret, in addition to a performance of Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 for strings led by director Kristian Bezuidenhout.
Amadigi di Gaula, Handel’s extraordinary tale of magic and love is brought to life in a concert performance at St Martin-in-the-Fields, led by Kristian Bezuidenhout (21 September). Countertenor Tim Mead takes on the title role and is joined by sopranos Hilary Cronin as Oriana and Mary Bevan as Melissa, and countertenor Hugh Cutting as Dardano.
Artistic Director of The English Concert, Harry Bicket, leads the orchestra in a performance of Handel’s tragic love story Acis and Galatea at Boughton House (23 September). The performance forms part of Handeliade: London & Boughton House – a unique gathering of performers and speakers hosted jointly by Handel & Hendrix House and Boughton House to celebrate Handel’s legacy and the cultural landscape of the 18th century. Tenor James Way and Soprano Hilary Cronin take on the lead roles of star-crossed lovers Acis and Galaea, whilst tenor Gwilym Bowen joins as Damon, and baritone Neal Davies as Polypheme.
The English Concert presents a concert performance of Handel’s comic cantata Clori, Tirsi and Fileno at Wigmore Hall (18 October). Led by director Harry Bicket, the cast features the voices of sopranos Ailish Tynan as Clori and Joélle Harvey as Tirsi, and countertenor Iestyn Davies as Fileno. Handel’s work features three characters whose emotions and desires intertwine amidst the idyllic beauty of nature. The graceful melodies, expressive arias, and poetic storytelling of this cantata eloquently capture Handel’s genius and invites audiences to immerse themselves in this soundworld.
Rodelinda is widely recognised as one of Handel’s greatest masterpieces; a powerful work that weaves a compelling narrative of love, truth, power and resilience. In the face of dishonour and the loss of her loved ones, Rodelinda’s dignified resistance and exemplary spirit ultimately elevate her amongst her rivals. Harry Bicket leads an all-star cast including soprano Lucy Crowe in the title role, countertenors Iestyn Davies as Bertarido and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Unulfo, tenor Eric Ferring as Grimoaldo, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice as Eduige, and bass-baritone Brandon Cedel as Garibaldo.
Concert performances will take place at Berkeley, University of California (19 November), Los Angeles Opera (21 November), Shanghai Concert Hall as part of the Shanghai International Arts Festival (26 November), Incheon Arts Centre, South Korea (28 November), Saffron Hall as part of the venue’s 10th birthday celebrations (2 December) before finishing at Carnegie Hall (10 December), where Rodelinda will be heard for the first time in over 50 years.
The Coronation of Poppea
Monteverdi’s last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea or The Coronation of Poppea, will receive a concert performance in Spain, the first in Auditorio Nacional, Madrid (16 March). The cast of singers featuring soprano Jeanine De Bique as Poppea, countertenors Justin Kim as Nerone and Iestyn Davies as Ottone, soprano Liv Redpath as Drusilla, tenor James Way as Lucano, mezzo-soprano Maite Beaumont as Ottavia and bass David Shipley as Seneca, will be led by director Harry Bicket.
Handel for All
The English Concert’s ambitious legacy project, Handel for All will see the orchestra film every single piece of Handel’s music to create a free and accessible online resource. The following works will be added to the online library of Handel’s works this season: Solomon, Amadigi, Italian duets and trios, Chandos Anthems Part 1, Organ Concertos, Foundling Anthem and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
This continues on the extensive portfolio already recorded and released by the orchestra in their celebration of one of England’s most famous composers. Handel for All has now released the first recordings, including performances of Samson and Saul, with a view to record over 600 works ranging from full-scale ambitious operas to works for children learning how to play.
The English Concert will be making a warm return to Garsington Opera with performances of Rameau’s Platée conducted by Paul Agnew and directed by Louisa Muller.