Taking note of Handel's death 250 years ago
We live in a new age of Handel, really. More of his operas are staged than at any time since he wrote them, an astonishing development, when you think about it.
A whole new crop of singers has emerged with Handel credentials, including many a countertenor. Directors and designers seemed particularly inspired by the possibilities in these gems of baroque opera (I fondly recall a New York City Opera production of Semele a few years ago where the title character was turned into Marilyn Monroe).
Many of today's most popular singers, prized for their Verdi, Puccini, Wagner or Strauss, also include this composer's works in their repertoire. Rolando Villazon just came out with his first Handel CD, for example (and it's quite engaging). Last year, Placido Domingo added a Handel role to his extensive repertoire. And Renee Fleming, of course, has long triumphed with Handel's music.
The composer would have been delighted that his operas were in style again (he saw several major shifts in public tastes during his lifetime), and he would have been especially pleased to get in on the profits (that guy did have a knack for making money). Needless to say, the lasting popularity of Handel's oratorios and instrumental music also confirms his stature today.
To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Handel's death in London -- April 14, 1759 -- enjoy this elegant feast for the ears, a 1924 recording by the incomparable tenor John McCormack of Come, My Beloved from the opera Atalanta:
BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTO (Handel's grave in Poet's Corner of London's Westminster Abbey)