The 2019 London Handel Festival is now over, and we are grateful to all our wonderful audiences, musicians, staff and volunteers who made it the great success it was.
There are more Handel-focused events later this year, and we are pleased to announce the dates and theme for the 2020 Festival: “Handel and the Hanoverians” (5 March – 10 April). We will publish full details on our website in due course; please sign up to receive updates from us if you would like to be notified in a timely manner.
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The 2019 Festival took ‘Handel’s Divas’ as its theme and explored the lives of the famous female singers, the ‘divas’ of their day, who were associated with Handel and for whom he wrote many of his most famous roles. We paid tribute to the women who inspired and gave life to Handel’s music, and were amazing role models in their day, attracting devoted fans and huge fame, but often with complicated personal stories behind their public acclaim. They captured the popular imagination in their day and occasionally caused riots amongst their rival supporters, filling the gossip pages of newspapers at the time! We included in our programmes biographical information about the ten divas Handel worked with most closely, all of whom are represented at various performances during the Festival, and we hope to upload this information in due course to our website.
Highlights of this year’s festival included our debut at the Royal Opera House with Berenice, which has not been heard there since Handel presented it in 1737; and performances of the rarely heard oratorio Athalia and serenata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. We welcomed for the first time Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu from Lyon with a ravishing programme of Handel and Porpora, and Festival Voices with their surprising remix of Dixit Dominus. We welcomed back Opera Settecento with Venceslao and London Early Opera and Early Opera Company who both presented programmes focused on specific Handelian divas.